I had to do it without the luxury of information. I didn’t know much about the world of work. I didn’t know what I wanted to become one day. I was just basically guessing. I knew I was good in Math and Physics so why not become an engineer?
When I think about it now, I’ve got to admit I sometimes think that I probably could have made a better decision. I was barely sixteen years old back then and I really didn’t know what I wanted to do for work. My teachers were no help at all. I guess they’ve had very few experiences either.
Looking Back NowIt’s true that hindsight is 20/20. Looking back, I can see more clearly what I could have done to arrive to a better career decision. But no matter how much I think about it, I cannot turn back time and do it again. What’s done is done.
But for many young students who are just now about to make this life-changing decision, these nuggets of learning can be invaluable. The only problem is most of the youth making these decisions are preoccupied with other stuff. Not a lot can appreciate why these things matter at all.
That’s why the message I have are for the parents who should know better. They are in the best position to guide their kids to choose the appropriate career path. It’s not about imposing their will on their kids or fulfilling any dream that the parents weren’t able to accomplish. It’s about working through the process of selection and going through the right steps so that kids will be less likely to make serious mistakes which can have lifelong consequences.
The Necessary ProcessSo how do parents do this? How can they help their kids choose a promising career path? I’ve laid out seven steps that parents can follow. These are simple steps that I think could have made me choose better and would, hopefully, help other parents ensure their kids make the right choice.
When you go through a pretty good process which touches on every significant aspect in order to arrive to a good decision, it can be liberating. There’s less likelihood for regret. Kids will grow up and look back at these moments in their lives and they can say to themselves that it was a decision made with a great deal of effort and guidance. It wasn’t an easy thing to accomplish but it was done right.
1. What is this and why it is important?Before anything else, parents will have a better chance of success in going through this process if they can get the kids to participate and cooperate. This can only be done by setting objectives and expectations with those involved. Discuss what’s going to happen, why you need to do it, how it’s going to play out and why teamwork will be the key to its success.
2. Assess Their StrengthsEach individual has his or her own strengths. This is very important consideration in choosing a career path. Sometimes it’s easy to spot but sometimes it’s not. There are a number of ways to figure out where your kids excel. These can include:
- Talking to them or asking them to fill out questionnaires
- Checking out their school report cards
- Talking to their teachers and classmates. Asking for feedback.
3. Assess Their LikesIt’s also important to know where their interests lie. Most people would want to spend most of their time doing what they like to do. To know these interests, parents can:
- Talk to them or ask them to fill out questionnaires
- Ask them about extra-curricular activities that they find enjoyable
- Find out what their hobbies are outside of school
4. List All Good OptionsAfter tabulating their strengths and interests, it’s time to figure out which career path may suit them best. It’ll be the job of the parent to determine professions that will align with the strengths and interests identified. Parents may take time to do research to get more information. The end result should be a list of options together with descriptions of what these options are.
5. Talk to the ProfessionalsOnce the list is thoroughly discussed, the kids may be ready to narrow down the options to three or four. When you get to this point, it would be great to be able to talk to people who actually are in these professions. For example, you may want to interview a lawyer, a doctor, an engineer or whatever profession is being considered. There’s no better insight than from someone who actually have the experience.
6. Watch The Professionals at WorkIf at all possible, set up some time with these professionals that you interviewed so the kids can observe them at work. It may be done for a day or for a couple of hours. It’s hard to imagine how good a line of profession is without seeing people at work in them. Nothing beats that.
7. Evaluate the Options and Declare the DecisionAll the steps above if followed correctly would have been thorough enough to help kids make their own choice. At the end of the process, they would have to make a decision. Don’t try to influence them one way or the other. Part of growing up is making big decisions and taking accountability for them.
*Photo Credit: Mr T. in DC (Creative Commons)