When you’re a kid, you’re constantly being asked the question, “If you could be anything in the world, what would you be??” As you become an adult, you get asked less and less. (And since it can be a stressful question, that’s usually a good thing!)
That is, until Halloween rolls around—and suddenly what you want to be is once again the number one question on everyone’s mind! “Should I be Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons…OR, should I dress up as a dentist and instill some *real* fear into the hearts of my peers?”
You might write off your Halloween choices as silly or fanciful, but at the risk of sounding like your therapist, dropping your inhibitions and expressing your heart’s desires, even for one day, can be very revealing in terms of your larger dreams and aspirations! Even if you’re not doing something as literal as dressing up as someone who works in your dream occupation, the things that get you excited about a big event or holiday like Halloween shouldn’t go unnoticed.
So what is it that you love most about Halloween? Is it the campy-spookiness of a good haunted house? Getting the chance to show off your pop culture knowledge by nailing down a costume that’s the exact right mix of funny, edgy, and timely? Is it the candy? Think about it again, and give us an honest answer this time: Is it the CANDY? Or, are you a Halloween Scrooge who refuses to dress up, hates mini pumpkins, and even (gulp) leaves the porch light off?! ????
We’re not here to judge you on your favorite part of Halloween (unless you have a passion for candy corn—then we’re absolutely judging you, you menace); we’re here to give you career advice! So scroll through our list, choose the option that sounds most like your approach to Halloween, and we’ll show you some wickedly great careers you might want to explore.
I’ll spend weeks or months thinking up an awesome costume—I’ll even build an entire narrative around my new persona!
Suggested careers: author, special effects guru, museum exhibit developer
Yer a world-creator, Harry! And if creating narratives is your bag, an obvious choice is to look into becoming a writer! You can even get more Halloween-specific, and write about spoOoOky topics, like R.L. Stine, the prolific writer behind the Goosebumps series, or The Corpse Bride screenplay writer and frequent Tim Burton collaborator, Caroline Thompson.
If your other interests trend toward STEM, there are plenty of ways that you can create stories using science! Take Dennis Muren, a nine-time Academy Award-winning “special effects guru.” He began his illustrious career back in the days of practical effects, when special effects meant meticulously building models and miniatures…and then blowing them up! He’s since transitioned into the technical world of CGI, creating the seemingly impossible settings for films like Star Wars and Jurassic Park.
You can even create cool new narratives using cold, hard chemistry. Shawn Lani, a senior artist and curator at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, is most well-known for his installation Icy Bodies. Shawn found a way to recreate comet-like phenomena by scaling down the mix of carbon dioxide and dry ice to create a piece of art that museum-goers can enjoy without having to wait 75 years to see ol’ Halley. It’s science, it’s art—and it makes you feel like you’re stepping into a whole new universe from the comfort of your local museum.
I looooove Halloween’s more morbid features: skeletons, fake blood, thinkin’ about death ’n’ stuff…is that weird?
Suggested career for you: forensic anthropologist
First of all: NO, your morbid curiosity isn’t weird. And not only that, but there are ways for you to harness that interest and use it to help people!
Here’s one of our all-time favorite quotes, from our interview with forensic anthropologist Bill Bass:
“If you gave me a pile of bones, I could sit here all day and really enjoy it!”
If you’re sitting here nodding in agreement (rather than nervously giggling, like we did in that moment), then forensic sciences might be the field for you.
You’ll get to use your fascination with gore to solve crimes and cold cases, with some good old-fashioned detective work thrown in. In fact, Bill told us he sees every dead body he encounters as a challenge: “I think…do I have the ability to figure out who that individual is and what happened to them?”
But as a word of warning: Forensic sciences are not for the faint of heart. Bill told us that on his first job, he arrived on the scene of a terrible car fire and promptly threw up. Nice. But strangely, because he felt so affected at that crime scene, it was also the first time he knew he’d found his lifelong passion! Such a heartwarming twist. ????
My favorite part of Halloween is actually sewing my costume and/or doing my makeup the night of!
Suggested jobs: costume designer, Blue Man?!
Academy Award-nominated costume designer Arianne Phillips arrived in New York City with little more than a small portfolio of her hand-sewn and styled thrift-store clothes, modeled by her friends. But her tenacity led her up a ladder that included working at Condé Nast, styling rock stars Madonna, Gwen Stefani, and Lenny Kravitz, outfitting cowboys in 3:10 to Yuma, and designing midcentury outfits for Johnny Cash and June Carter in Walk the Line.
Her story shows that when you start with something small—like designing Halloween costumes for you or your friends—and follow through on it, you can build an expansive and exciting career out of it.
If makeup is more your thing? Of course you could pursue cosmetology! But you could also take it a step further and try something completely new.
Chris Wink, founder of the Blue Man Group, told us that while many consider the Blue Men to be musicians first and foremost, they actually started out as performance artists. There were plenty of performance artists in New York City at the end of the eighties, but few others had the staying power of the Blue Man Group…probably because none of them had the wherewithal to dunk their bodies in blue paint.
Many of their early pieces revolved around Joseph Campbell’s idea of “following your bliss,” so take this as a sign: if your bliss is painting zombie makeup onto your friends to transform them into Walking Dead characters for Halloween, you should chase that bliss, hard. Like…IDK…a zombie chasing a Walking Dead character.
Visiting pumpkin patches is my JAM.
Suggested job: community-garden organizer
Alice Caruthers, executive director of Alemany Farm, the largest urban farm in San Francisco, didn’t start her farm to grow pumpkins. Growing up in a neighborhood where most of her peers felt like their only options were “jail or death,” she knew she had to do something to open up more channels for growth.
She joined Alemany Farm and started running community outreach programs that invited local youth to volunteer to work on the farm, not only getting them off of the streets after school, but also providing them invaluable lessons about healthy eating and the ecosystem of a small farm.
By improving food security in its community, and teaching locals about the importance of environmental conservation, Alice and Alemany Farm’s stories prove that your interest in something as simple as a pumpkin patch can blossom into an avenue through which you can very seriously affect positive change in your community.
Yeah, yeah, OK; I’m in it for the candy.
Suggested jobs: Chocolatier, food scientist
Pretty much everyone in the world loves candy, but if you’re the person who’s checking ingredients on the back of the Reese’s pumpkins, and then attempting to recreate your own for your Halloween party, you might be a good candidate to work in the candy industry.
You could go the traditional route, like Katrina Markoff, founder of Chicago mainstay Vosges Haut-Chocolat. She moved to Paris to study at the legendary culinary school Le Cordon Bleu. But it was her travels and experiences outside of the classroom that inspired her now-famous chocolate truffles, created with spices from places like Budapest and Hong Kong.
You don’t have to travel the world or study at Le Cordon Bleu to indulge your love of candy. Take Elise Benstein, the food scientist at Jelly Belly who gets to taste-test jelly beans and then tinker with their ingredients until their flavors hit the mark. She earned her undergraduate degree in food science and nutrition before deciding to attend culinary school.
Or Adnan Aziz, founder of First Flavor, which — inspired by the lickable wallpaper in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory—developed flavored test strips that can be used in advertisements. Before founding his company, he studied bioengineering, mathematics, and political science!
I don’t know why I even clicked on this post in the first place—I hate Halloween!
Suggested career: ????
We don’t know why you’d click on this either…but it turns out that hating Halloween can have significance too! We don’t want to psychoanalyze you too much here, but “Jim Halpert-ing” year after year and dressing up as yourself rather than picking a new persona could mean a lot of things:
Maybe you feel so completely secure in your current position in the world that you don’t feel like you want/need to construct some sort of dream life! (If you fall into this category, our contact info is easily available on our website; we’d love for you to hit us up and tell us all your secrets.)
OR — and this is slightly more worrisome — maybe you’re the kind of person who’s paralyzed by indecision. You know, the person who stays at a bad job because it’s easier than having to hunt down a new one. If this is hitting uncomfortably close to home, we don’t have a suggested career for you, but we do have some advice: forget the stresses of buying a costume, wearing it to work…forget everything about Halloween. Now, ask yourself again: “If you could be anything in the world, what would you be?!”
Of course, if you just hate Halloween because you’re scared of ghosts…well, that’s OK too.
Not feeling especially connected to Halloween this year, or just not loving the career options we picked for you? It’s fine; we’re not offended. The good news is, you can go use our super-simple Roadmap tool to find more careers for you! Just select some of your interests (Halloween-related or otherwise) and we’ll find custom career options that will perfectly blend them all together.