How to Help Your Child Find a 21st Century Career
Most of us were brought up to study hard, get good grades, choose a "practical"
college major, and strive for a "good job."
Talk to a stranded midlife career-changer and you realize the game has changed.
Yesterday's rules prepared us to be passengers on a large ocean liner that
promised a smooth voyage. Today we realize that ocean liner turned out to be the
Titanic and we need to keep ourselves afloat on a small life raft if we want to survive.
Here are some tips to help your child learn not only to survive, but to thrive
and grow in a chaotic world.
1. From the first day of kindergarten, encourage your child to build on
strengths rather than focus on limitations.
Does she spend hours studying models of cars for the last twenty years? Maybe
she'll become an auto mechanic -- or maybe she'll parlay her ability to classify
detailed information into a career as a biologist or pharmacist.
2. Encourage your child to choose a field of study based on his or her natural
abilities and passions, not "what will get me a job."
Claudia Kennedy, the Army's first female three-star General, majored in philosophy.
In her book Generally Speaking, she claims philosophy prepared her to become a
top-level intelligence officer. Carly Fiorino, famed CEO of Hewlett-Packard, studied
medieval history. And Michael Lewis, financial writer and best-selling author of
Liars Poker, was an art history major.
3. Assure your children that few mistakes are fatal.
Did your child fail a course? Face rejection from a first-choice college? Most
of us can't avoid an occasional failure, but we can learn bounce-back attitudes
as soon as we can talk.
Yolanda Griffith, WNBA basketball star, dropped out of a premier program due to
pregnancy. She returned to a lower-ranked college program, baby in tow, and now
plays for the Sacramento Monarchs.
I once taught a student who had flunked out of junior college following a close
call with the legal system. After a four-year stint in the US Navy, she returned
to college, maintained a dean's list grade point average, and went on to a top law school.
4. Encourage your child to experience success in any area of her life.
Did she make the honor roll? Get selected for a play, a club, or athletic team?
Win an election for competitive office? Survive a strenuous application process
for a summer job? Once your child has tasted success, he will know how it feels
and will act like a winner when he enters the job market.