How to Prepare Your Child for a Future Career
When I was a child, adults would often ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up. Over a six-month period, my response morphed from surgeon to stunt man to comic book artist. I wasn’t thinking seriously about my future career because it was “forever” away. Though, a little more intentional processing of my options could have saved some struggle as my time to leave the nest approached.
As the children in our lives grow, we can and should help guide their future career aspirations. Of course, we should never strong-arm a child to pursue a career that only satisfies our desires. Understanding how children process their hopes and develop their interests enables us to steer them in the direction that helps them discover their most fulfilling future.
How children think
Researchers argue career development begins in elementary school, around age seven but as early as age four. Children’s career aspirations form early and are strongly influenced by ethnicity, gender and class. Their thoughts toward their future careers tend to be realistic, such as a fire fighter or police officer, rather than fantasy (unicorn or dragon). Unconsciously, these hopes are shaped by social expectations.
Introducing career opportunities and pathways to children at a young age expands their career aspirations, reduces the impact of gender stereotypes and increases their confidence in succeeding in their future careers.
This education is more important than ever due to the rapidly evolving state of work. Technology is foundational for nearly every industry and offers a lion’s share of new jobs that are going unfilled due to a lack of skilled talent. With both a significant skills gap and gender and minority gap to close, it’s crucial that we show the vast career opportunities to our youth.
We need to prepare our students for the future of work. Many in-demand technical jobs did not exist 15 years ago. Our students need to have a strong foundation of skills that will enable them to grow and adapt as older jobs are phased out and replaced with new jobs.
How do I prepare my child for a successful career?
1. Engage in fun activities that develop career skills
As parents, we can often spot the interests and activities our young children are bent toward. Personality and talents provide clues to their future endeavors. Rather than just using these clues to place them in activities that will enhance their social, athletic and intellectual skills, we should be intentional about adding that next step of career development to the process.
For technology careers, the options are wide. Tech companies need creativity, problem-solving, analytical expertise and technology skills. Some ideas to help develop these:
- Scavenger hunts
- Escape rooms
- Graphic design classes
- Innovation competitions
- Technology camps and workshops
- Robotics teams
- Online coding websites
- Web design/App development (create a family website or app)
- Company tours
2. Create a profile on Tallo
Tallo is a free resource for students, educators and hiring organizations. From their site: “Students showcase their talents through digital profiles, discover resources and scholarships, receive guidance and coaching, and connect with talent seekers who can view student profiles and recruit them directly via internal messaging.”
By creating a profile early, your child can have an advantage over other students when looking for schools and internships.
3. Learn to think like an entrepreneur
Not every student will grow up to start a business, but every student should learn to think like an entrepreneur. Many employers claim that interpersonal/soft skills are more important than technical skills.
- Using your power to choose your response to circumstances
- Taking action
- Looking for problems to solve and new opportunities to discover
- Building a personal brand of integrity and reliability
- Becoming a lifelong learner
- Saving and managing money
- Being persistent
The Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative has excellent resources to help you and your child enhance these skills. With an entrepreneurial mindset, your student will be empowered to create her own success, rather than delegating her future to someone else. Regardless of how technology changes the work environment (through automation, artificial intelligence, etc), these skills will always be in high demand.
4. Look for internships & apprenticeships
To help solve their talent shortages, more employers and stepping up and adding new internships and apprenticeships. Companies are working to recruit young people (high school and post-secondary), teach them technical skills and integrate them into their culture.
If your student identifies an organization that he would like to work for, these options provide a doorway.
5. Keep technical schools very much in the mix
Tech schools have the reputation of being a lesser option than a traditional four-year school. With the landscape of work options drastically changing, earning a technical degree can be quite profitable. Rather than sinking deep into debt, students earn their tech degrees in two years and find immediate employment for salaries of $60,000+. Technical work, manufacturing in particular, is cleaner and safer than in generations past. Computers and robotics are becoming increasingly familiar in manufacturing facilities.
If your student is interested in a tech school program, she may be headed for a very bright future – with little, if any debt. Unfortunately, the stigma for these schools is buried deeply within the conscious of older generations. It needs to uprooted quickly, because tech schools are the institutions producing the needed talent to fill these roles.
With a little guidance and a great deal of encouragement, you’ll prepare your child for a bright future.
If you live in South Carolina, let IT-oLogy help. You’ll find a wide variety of programs here.