Living the Dream

What Did You Want to Be When You Grew Up?

According to a Workopolis poll of Canadians, more than 80% of Canadians aren’t doing the job they dreamed of doing when they were children.

3 photos: fireman (carrying a beautiful woman to safety), astronaut doing spacewalk, male stripper in front of screaming women
Possible dream jobs.

The poll posed these two questions to adults:

  • What was your dream job when you were between the ages of 5 and 9?
  • What was your dream job when you were between the ages of 13 through 19?

The results:

  • 7% of those surveys are now working at what was their dream job between the ages of 5 and 9.
  • 13% of those surveyed are now working at what was their dream job between the ages of 13 and 19.

What I Wanted to Be

Both my parents were doctors, so at the age of 5, I wanted to be a doctor when I grew up. This was in the early seventies, and the way I hear my parents tell it, those were some of the best years to be in medicine, from a money-making point of view.

However, at around age 7, I discovered space and astronomy books. I was glued to the TV set when the Apollo-Soyuz mission took place and followed any news about the not-ready-for-flight space shuttle, which was stilled named the Constitution. (A letter-writing campaign from Star Trek fans would later make them rechristen it as the Enterprise.) I thought I might make a good astronomer, space scientist or rocket engineer.

In my teen years, I met my friend Pavel Rozalski, whose dad did some computer/electronics work at a glass company, and he got me into computers. We developed a sort of early Apple Computer working relationship while working on our science fair projects: Pavel played the “Woz” role doing much of the building of our simulator of AND, OR, NAND and NOR gates, while I was the “Jobs” guy, doing a lot of the writing of reports and talking to the judges. Our heroes were the guys who did stuff out of their garages — Woz and Jobs, as well as Hewlett and Packard. From then on, I was hooked on computers. I wanted to do something computer-related when I grew up.

I was also a dabbler in music and graphic arts (especially cartooning — most people at Crazy Go Nuts University know me for being a DJ and a cartoonist rather than an engineering and computer science major), so I always hoped that there’d be a way to combine those two loves with computers, perhaps with some chatting with people thrown in.

I remember reading an article in Creative Computing, one of the premier computer hobbyist magazines of the late 1970s and early 1980s. In that article, a programmer predicted that in the next coupel of decades, computer programmers might get the same sort of recognition as rock stars. I remember thinking, “Yeah, I’d like that.”

I showed the article to a friend of mine who laughed at me. “That’s stupid. That’s why I’m going to be a rock drummer. It’ll be way better — you’ll be coming home, all tired from work, ready to die, and I’ll be onstage and on TV in front of screaming chicks, getting high off the audience’s smoke.”

(Dude: been there, done that. With an effin’ accordion. How ’bout you?)

Finally, at the end of my teens — or maybe just after — I became aware of Guy Kawasaki, who held an interesting position at Apple: Technical Evangelist. I remember thinking “That’s a cool job…maybe I’d like to do that someday.” Since then, Guy’s been a role model of mine.

All this is an explanation for my generally good mood: I’m working at my dream job.

Joey deVilla and Chad Fowler playing the opening number for an evening keynote at RailsConf 2007.
Me and Chad Fowler playing the opening number for an evening keynote at the RailsConf 2007 conference.

0 replies on “Living the Dream”

Can’t share your enthusiasm for Kawasaki. He’s enthusiastic enough, but he’s got to be one of the smarmiest, cheesiest dudes on the entire planet. And if he says “bull shiitake” one more time, I’m gonna hurt somebody.

Anyway, on predicted careers. I won a coloring contest as a kid, and one of the questions they asked the winners was “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

My response?

“Ditch digger.”

No, I am not kidding. Yes, I was a freakishly weird kid. I think it’s fair to say I’ve exceeded expectations so fair.

@Jeff Atwood: Yeah, Guy can be grating sometimes, and “bull shiitake” got really old really quickly, but he practically wrote the book on tech evangelism. He also did it at for Apple at a time when the Apple picture wasn’t so rosy and few alpha geeks would be caught dead with a Mac or anything Apple-branded.

Besides, Scoble’s also a role model of mine, and as with Guy, I’ve managed not to annoy people as much as he has.

As for joke answers to “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, as soon as I learned that a job like “deodorant test sniffer” existed, that became my stock answer. That, and wanting to be an evil Asian overlord like Lo Pan from Big Trouble in Little China.

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