Be A Career Advocate For Your Kids

From all of us at Career Reform, Happy Father’s Day! And like every other holiday, I always take the time reflect on its relevance to our evolving employment world. My father was raised during a dark time for the American economy – the Great Depression and World War II. For him, work was a means of survival rather than a passion one fulfilled. Imagine how strange it was for him to have a daughter (instead of a son) who pursued the dream of owning her own business. In my father’s eyes, the term “entrepreneur” represented his male boss, and at first, he didn’t understand why I wanted to be my own boss. But my Dad, being the lovable guy that he was, supported me nonetheless. From moral support to babysitting my children while I worked 12-hour days, he never questioned my decision.

Joan's Dad

Joan’s Dad

In my experience as both recruiter and career coach, I’ve met loads of fathers who’ve expressed that they have no idea what’s going on in their children’s heads. They don’t know what their kids want to be when they grow up and are always baffled by how different their sons’ and daughters’ dreams are from their own. Many of these kids want no part in the family business and others are pursuing careers in fields their dads have never heard of. Bottom line, traditional workforce beliefs are no longer realistic in today’s job climate.

Today, young people are motivated by a certain cause, a unique company culture, and projects they actually enjoy rather than the almighty buck. Many fathers want their children to go to college and become doctors and lawyers or teachers and nurses because they’re deemed respectable, well-paid roles. But what they don’t realize is that these mainstream fields make up a small fraction of the white collar, growing fields out there. Creative job titles are the new norm – old jobs have new names, such as Quality Assurance Manager and Lab Technician while new roles are being invented, such as Big Data Architect, IOS App Developer, and Social Media Intern. Yes, there is a high demand for professionals to do the very thing your kids are doing under the dinner table on their smart phones, and they’re getting paid a handsome sum.

On too many occasions to count, parents ask me the famous question, How do I prepare my children for college? My counter question is always the same: Shouldn’t your goal to be preparing them for their future careers? After all, that’s the whole point of college, right? The biggest problem in our millennials today is that most of them lack the confidence to experiment with outside-the-box jobs, take risks, and fall on their face every once in a while. While other countries, like India for example, are working to guide their youngsters into jobs in high demand, we’re lagging far behind, still trying to push our kids into traditional roles rather than filling active gaps in the business world. The result? The middle class is making less money than it did in 1989 and there’s a major skills deficit that’s hurting our economy.

GET YOUR KIDS ON TRACK

Don’t compare your career to theirs. Dads, you are doing them a disservice if you think for one second that your professional journey is at all relatable to your children’s. Technology has transformed the work world in immeasurable ways. For example, if he’s motivated enough and has an aptitude for math, you’re son can leverage his undying love of Xbox and become a Video Game Programmer or a Computer Software Engineer. The amount of young entrepreneurs who have built successful start-ups out of their basements and dorm rooms today is truly unfathomable.

Ask others about their work. When I travel, I ask everyone I meet where they began their career journey and how they ended up in their line of work today. I’ve never taken my kids to the same place on vacation because I wanted them to see the diverse occupational choices out there, and now they have the courage to travel everywhere and are empowered to follow their dreams, regardless of demographics.

Do some research. Go to job search engines – I’m a big fan of Indeed – find out what a simple keyword, like “science,” pulls up. You’ll be amazed by all the occupational choices you never knew existed. Take your kids on career field trips and introduce them to your adult friends who represent different industries. Most parents rely on education to help their kids find out what they want to be when they grow up when they should be introducing them to real-life career experiences as well.

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