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Dream job at age 15

March 25, 2015

Q. Hey Nick,

Your site was very helpful! I’m actually a grade ten student, at fifteen years old, and humanitarian aid is the closest I’ve come to my dream job thus far. As of right now, it might as well be my dream job. However, if it is my dream job “for certain”, I’m not so sure. I need to make a decision fast about what I want to persue for the rest of my years at high school, but how do I know that humanitarian work is for me if I have no experience in the field whatsoever, as I am only fifteen?

Although I am attending a Me to We Youth Volunteer Trip to Ecuador this summer. I realize that the conditions will be quite luxurious compared to the conditions of an aid worker, and the stuff I will be doing (building a school, learning a language, volunteering with community members) is a lot different than the work of an aid worker, but is it a good start? This will be the first time I have left Canada, and I’m quite excited. I know that I want to travel (see the world – in it’s beauty AND in it’s destruction), and I have a passion for volunteering and helping people that is probably unnatural, so a career that contains both is exciting for me.

I’m doing all of the research I can surrounding humanitarian work, and I loved your site – it has helped me very much in discovering what humanitarian/international aid is all about.
Thank you,

A. Hi Hannah,

First off, thanks for the kind words about the site – I’m glad it’s helpful.

Second – I want to let you know that you’re doing everything right in terms of figuring out what you want to do with your life. While you do need to make decisions about what you take in school, those decisions won’t be that important in terms of jobs in relief and development. If you think you might want to go to medical school, become an architect, or a professional musician, taking the right classes in school might be really important, but in the aid world it doesn’t matter that much (unless you want to work as a medical professional or an accountant, for example).

You should definitely carry on getting experience overseas whenever those opportunities present, learning a language is always an advantage, and start to get work experience either overseas, or in related experiences in Canada. The main thing is to get your feet wet and figure out whether this is really something that you’re going to love, or something you love the idea of.

What I would say is that, more than ever, people are having several careers in their lifetimes, so while the decisions you’re making now are important, you will have opportunities to make changes later in life, so take them seriously, but don’t worry too much about them.

This article by ‘J’ from the Guardian might interest you, good luck, and let us know how you get on!


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