Imaginations are wonderful things, they allow us to conjure images of monsters and dragons and to dream the impossible. They can take us to places that we have never been, or which don’t even exist. Which is great – but sadly when working with things that are a little more concrete, imagination is not always useful. Like career choices for instance. Teenagers are often pressed by their teachers or counsellors, who want to know what they are going to be when they grow up. Sadly, kids tend to know the vocations with which they have had contact – teachers, policemen, whatever it is that their parents do. But aside from that, they don’t really have much clue about the options that are open to them or how to study to be one. Here are a few ideas that could help them expand the scope of their reality and see beyond the obvious.
Peruse university course books
You don’t have to enrol at university to explore the options. All reputable colleges will have copies of the available courses available to prospective students online or in a faculty handbook. Have a look at these as they are essentially a menu detailing what is available. Seeing something like diploma of logistics might not mean a huge amount to a 15-year-old, but if it piques an interest and resonates with the skillset they have been born with, they might suddenly see an opportunity that they were previously unaware of. If your child is uncertain of what they want to do, then wherever possible encourage them to study something that is broad and not too specific (like a Bachelor of Arts) as opposed to something that is more narrowly defined (like medicine or law).
Don’t just take your child to work with you when they are asked to job-shadow. The reality is they have probably been to work with you before, and unless they are very inattentive they probably already have a very good idea of what it is that you do. Encourage them to broaden their horizons and go and see other people in their work place. Try to align the job-shadow with their interests and skills and try to ensure that the day is spent productively in an environment that will open their eyes to more than just one specific job. For example, they may be interested in creating computer games; don’t just have them shadow a developer, expose them to the designer, the UX team and the project manager as well.
Engage consciously with them
Don’t just leave your child to make a business career decision by themselves. Engage actively with them but listen more than talk. Remember that they need to choose their career. You cannot live vicariously through your child, so you need to let them find their own way. If you always wanted to be a doctor but couldn’t afford it, don’t push them in the direction of medicine for your own sake. A parent’s role is to guide and advise, but it needs to stop there. Ensure that they don’t ruin their lives by making calamitous choices, but also don’t alienate them by being too strict or in control of what it is they can or can’t do.