By Ronnie Green, Career Coach
Summer is finally here and graduation celebrations are a treasured memory. Hopefully, you are out and enjoying the special moments of summer; maybe relaxing by the pool (I’m writing this blog at the beach).
For recent high school graduates and their parents, this can be a difficult time. Parents may be worried about how they will pay for their child’s tuition. Young adults are asked every day, “So what are you going to major in?” “What do you want to do (unstated–when you grow up)?” These are really hard questions, but especially difficult for young adults. At this point in their lives, they have so many emotions, fears and challenges that they face every day. It is almost overwhelming to think in such big terms as “future” or “forever”.
Parents often want to impart words of wisdom to their children. Some children may turn a deaf ear to their parents’ advice. After all, what do parents know? It was different in their day when social media did not exist and news came on television only at 6pm and 11pm. The world and information now moves at such a fast pace. What has not changed is the importance of looking ahead.
Many graduation speeches talk about planning your future career by doing what you love. The expression that if you “do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life” is commonly used to describe how to decide on a career. I say phooey to that!
As a Career Coach with almost 15 years of experience, I’ve seen too many sad stories of people who have not planned well for their lives and career. I’ve worked with clients who may love acting or music and dreamed of a successful career as a major performance artist. Unfortunately, at 50 years old, when their dreams did not work out as they had hoped, they come to JCS for Career Center help. They are frequently unable to support themselves at anything other than minimum wage jobs. It can be frustrating that their chosen field does not pay.
Rather than look back when it’s too late to change (few people can go back to school when they are older, married and supporting a family). I encourage young people to look forward and PLAN their future. Do what you love–with this caveat: identify the skills that you have and match them with jobs that are needed in the current marketplace.
For example, if you love to write, perhaps you would consider becoming a technical writer. As the world needs more and more technical skills, you could be at the forefront of the tech industry, helping people to understand and utilize technology through your ability to write and communicate. It is a relatively high paying profession that is going to be in strong demand in the future.
Are you a person with strong communication and relationship building skills? Sales and relationship managers are needed in most industries. Will you be the person out there selling technology services to employers or marketing a product through social media campaigns? A friend of mine does data system makeovers for Fortune 500 companies. He is using his exceptional communication and customer service skills as a successful IT resource.
Another emerging area for growth, beside healthcare, education and defense sectors is the development of new business opportunities. Small niche businesses are started daily. I’m sure you are aware of the incredibly successful video/app game, Angry Birds. Many creative, playful and tech savvy people with strong business skills are out there trying to create the next new hot sensation.
My favorite recent success story is that of a smart and personable young man who was struggling in school. He had gotten a scholarship because of his good math skills and just didn’t want to be a “boring accountant” (his words, not mine). I met with him and listened to his dreams of working in an exciting field as well as doing something that could be creative. We discussed emerging technology and the huge demand for bright people in the field of cyber security. Today I’m happy to report he was just accepted into an internship program with a defense contractor that will result with his getting a high level security clearance and a guaranteed job when he graduates. You can bet that he is really excited about his future now!
So, as you are out there enjoying the lazy days of summer, don’t just soak up the sun without spending a bit of time to reflect on yourself. Think about your skills, i.e., what are you good at, what do you like to do, and – more importantly- begin to look for the jobs that use those skills. This planning time will be worth it. Remember, you can always “draw” or “act” in your free time off from your well-paying professional career.
By Ronnie Green, JCS Career Coach
JCS offers a full range of career services. For more information about the JCS Career Center click here or call 410-466-9200.