by Jamie Leboe, Career Coach
It’s never too early to start thinking about your future – not just your future in general, but your future career, too. Career exploration is a lifelong process. How often are children asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s not that kids need to be thinking about their eventual profession at such an early age, but as parents we want to be nurture their interests, talents and skills, which may be helpful in their eventual career search.
For parents, part of this process is to help our children be aware of the possibilities without putting pressure on them. I encourage my girls, who are 11 and 9, to look at what people “do” everywhere we go. We talk about looking at what their teachers do at school, and I ask them if they think that is something that they would like to do. When we go to the pediatrician, we talk about what doctors and nurses do. I encourage them to talk to our family members about their jobs. By opening them up to different careers now, hopefully they can start to get an idea of things that they may be interested in later.
Opportunities for kids to discover their interests begin early.
- Elementary School: Starting as early as kindergarten, parents come in to classrooms for a Career Day and talk about their jobs.
- Middle School: Ask your kids what they like. If they show an interested in a certain extracurricular activity or hobby, help them learn more about it. Encourage research. We can learn so much online. If kids are interested in something, you’ll be amazed at how much time they will devote to it.
- High School: Internships are a great way to get a real feel for a job, and figure out if it may be a good choice for later. If an internship is offered in high school, take it! Encourage your kids to talk to their teachers and guidance counselors about their interests and they can help them to find appropriate opportunities. It’s not always necessary to wait until college.
- Networking: They say it’s all who you know, so make as many positive connections as you can. You never know when a personal connection that you made even as early as high school will help you find a job later.
- Social Networking: Remind your teenagers that once it’s out there, you can’t take it back. Keep an eye on what your kids are putting on their social networking sites. Make sure you continually tell them to keep it appropriate. No party pictures!
The key to getting kids engaged in anything is to try to make it fun. YouTube has job videos kids can watch for an introduction to lots of different options. Some great websites to look at are careervillage.org, kids.usa.gov and bls.gov/k12/students.htm. They have games that are fun and interactive. Also, going to work with parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or anyone who is able to have a visitor for a day is a great way to explore. The most important thing we can do, though, is let our kids be kids. The more they experience and explore, the more likely they will eventually end up choosing a career that they love.
By Jamie Leboe, 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.