What do you want to be when you grow up?

By Elizabeth Ouyang, Enterprise for Youth intern
July 21, 2020

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

An artist.

In first grade, we were given an assignment to draw our ideal careers 20 years from the present. I naturally and promptly chose to be an artist because painting was an enjoyable hobby that made me feel elated. However, when I told people outside of the classroom about my dream to be the next Monet, I was given the impression (pun not intended) that this was not a “realistic” option.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

An optometrist.

In third grade, when I was asked the same question, I blurted the answer out without hesitation. The reason simply derived from my observation that my optometrist owned two golden retrievers, which I naively associated with living a comfortable life. After hearing my answer, my mom advised me that I shouldn’t work solely for the pursuit of wealth and material possessions. As a young girl, this filled me with an immense sense of confusion and bewilderment.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

From then on, my answer to this question kept changing.
Chemist, because that’s what my dad is.
Doctor, because I want to save lives.
Hotel manager, because I like to go on vacation.

The feeling of not knowing what I wanted to do started to loom over me when I entered high school. It seemed that most of my classmates had niche extracurriculars that correlated to what they were actually passionate about, something that I did not have. Since my parents were both scientists, most of my extracurricular activities revolved around STEM. While these experiences fostered my knowledge and interpersonal skills, I never viewed them as long-term commitments. Luckily, at the beginning of my sophomore year, I discovered Enterprise For Youth through my school’s online bulletin board. I was captivated by its mission and thought that the Youth Council was a good platform for me to combine my love to serve with my strength in leadership. I immediately filled out the application.

From then on, I did not look back. Slowly but surely, Enterprise became my second home where I met some of my closest friends and mentors. I was constantly amazed by the endless opportunities and connections that were presented to me, ranging from The Fall Show to Dreamforce. Through the countless networking events and panels, Enterprise helped me to discover careers and clarify the professional path I wanted to take.

But beyond this, the environment at Enterprise is one-of-a-kind. The staff are so approachable and are all invested in helping each and every student reach their full potential. Moreover, I always felt empowered being in a room around like-minded, driven youth. At its core, Enterprise taught me to believe in myself and to never settle for less.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Now, through my experience from Enterprise, I can confidently answer this question. When I grow up, I want to be an ‘artreprenuer’ and turn my artistic strength into inspiring designs that can meet people’s needs, inspire others’ passion, and make a difference in the world. While I cannot foresee changes in the future, I know that no matter what, Enterprise has equipped me with the confidence and tools to use my knowledge and my talents as a force for good.