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Practical Homeschooling® :

Seeking and Finding a Winning Career

By Kristin Hamerski
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #63, 2005.

Preparing yourself for a winning career.
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Kristin Lee Hamerski

Kristin newlly certified as an Anchorage Youth Court Attorney
"This is My Country, land of my birth, this is my country, grandest on earth... " As I sung those words at the Alaska Veteran's Day Concert with the wonderful Anchorage Civic Orchestra behind me, I realized what a gift it is to live in a country where you can truly become anything you want, that has been "the grandest on earth"!

Those of you reading this who are Americans have been brought up on the slogan found in our Declaration of Independence, "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." Well, my challenge to all of you today, whether Americans or not, is to take hold of such freedoms as you enjoy. Begin early to honor those freedoms by homing in on your talents in such a way as not only to find where you might find success in a career, but also to find your purpose in life.

Success begins early in a career and in life. I know my parents have been exposing me to a plethora of different opportunities and activities since I was very young so that I could see for myself where my greatest God-given talents lie. Since I was interested in the law, my parents signed me up for Youth Court classes in Anchorage, my home town. I greatly enjoyed this experience, realizing that I had a great degree of talent in this field by passing the Bar Exam with the highest score in my class. There are many youth courts throughout the US, which offer youth an opportunity to learn about the law as a future profession as well as provide students with community service hours helping their peers to get back on the right track.

Kristin 8 years old (right) with friend Nicole waving signs for Tom Fink for Governor in 1994.
Another interest I had was in politics. I have always been fascinated with what goes on in my town, state, country, and the world. Ever since I was very young my parents have helped me to be active in local, state, and national political races. I've waved signs for candidates since I was very young. I have also enjoyed being involved in Youth Vote 2000, Youth Vote 2002, and Youth Vote 2004. In addition I have also helped out with the first live Youth Gubernatorial Debate (2002), and the first live Senatorial Debate (2004). This year I especially enjoyed going to "Election Central" and meeting all of the candidates as they watched the votes come in during the Presidential election. I even made up my own custom shirt with my candidates' bumper stickers and pins, etc. This can make for a fun school project. I was also honored to sing for Alaska's Official Electoral College Vote for President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, by the special invitation of the Lieutenant Governor! This was truly a phenomenal event witnessing history in the making and I would highly recommend each of you look for such an event in your state in the future. It makes for a very educational and inclusive project in U.S. government. From all of these experiences I have found that I both have talent in these areas and that I also enjoy the workings of each field.

It is important to note, though, that talent, and enjoyment are not necessarily enough when it comes to a career. I feel that considering where God wants you to be is also very important. I would recommend reading the book, The Purpose Driven Life, or listening to it on CD. I have found that above any career plans or aspirations I might have, I know I will be the happiest and the truest to myself if I follow the calling or purpose God has for my life (i.e., putting my God-given talents to use where God has intended I use them). The author of this particular book, Rick Warren, also has a wonderful website, www.purposedrivenlife.com. I truly found his book to be extremely life changing! His previous book, The Purpose Driven Church, was even selected as one of "100 Christian Books That Changed the 20th Century."

Volunteering is a great way to get some practical experience in a field you are interested in or think you might have a talent for. You could volunteer at a vet clinic if you were interested in being a veterinarian, or volunteer to mentor other school-age children in a subject you excel in if you think you might want to become a teacher. The ideas are endless, but the key is to find someone in your field of interest who really wants to help you find where your talents lie in that given profession. Volunteering with Special Olympics has given me an increased passion in helping the disabled, which I would like to work into my career. In volunteering through my work on the Lieutenant Governor's Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Task Force I have seen the difference that volunteering can make in not only my life but also the lives of others. Thanks to the work of my fellow Task Force members, Alaska now has an Office for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives! As Alaska helps to lead the way in this, I have been able to witness the power of people who have a common purpose to help others. I know what I have learned working on the Task Force will definitely be with me throughout my career.

Kristin and former Anchorage Mayor Top Fink at the Alaska Moose Federation Banquet 2004
Volunteering will give you a passion for what you do. After all a career is also about helping others and contributing to society as much as it is about making money to be self sufficient.

Job shadowing can work much the same way as volunteering, but is usually much more intensive, requiring you to actually do the same work as the person whom you are shadowing. I have job shadowed with my parents as well as with many professionals and have found that I learned a lot and it really benefited what I was learning in school even if I didn't necessarily want to work in the particular profession. When I was young I followed my friend, Rona, around her office. I have also done construction work with my dad and planted flowers around town with my mother.

Internships are very much like job shadowing; however, depending on the internship you may be able to receive high school and college credit for the work you do. In Alaska older teens are offered the opportunity to intern with state house representatives and senators in Juneau. They receive a small stipend for living expenses. Internships are truly a great opportunity, and could be in just about any profession: medical, construction, etc.

Alaska Veterans Day Concert: Kristin with Alaska's ARMY Task Force 1-501st Airborne, just back from Afghanistan
Paid employment is another option to consider when looking for the career that is best for you. As an example, you could become an assistant to someone who currently works in the field you are interested in. This would let you see first hand if you think you are right for the job and if the job is right for you. The other added plus is, of course, you also make some money while you are pursuing your goals, and you will inevitably gain new skills as well as realize skills you never knew you had just like any new situation.

For those students looking into a career in the performing arts (singing, dancing, acting, playing an instrument) try to find opportunities to showcase that talent. You never know who could be at an event; it could lead to even bigger events. I know this has happened with my singing. Because of my performance at other events, the Municipal Veterans and Military Affairs Commission highly recommended me to the CEO of the Alaska Veteran's Foundation, Ric Davidge, as a soloist for the Alaska Veteran's Day Concert, which is one of only 20 such events nationally. I was truly honored to sing for our veterans and active duty personnel. I consider it a true privilege to put my talents to use, and I know that whatever career I eventually find myself in I will have a life that has been greatly enriched with all of the opportunities I have been so fortunate to have had.

No matter what career you might be interested in, just finding someone who works in that field who would like to mentor you and just take you to work with them a few times can be very beneficial in determining if you would like to continue pursuing a career in that field. Truly, thinking about your talents and interests now and finding ways to let you "try out" the profession is a wonderful learning tool, and will certainly help guide you through college giving you true motivation as well as sense of direction and purpose.

The best career advice that I can give is to seek your future with a heart for God's will. God's blessing in a career will give you the confidence you need for success, and the strength to face any obstacle with determination.

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