All parents want to see their children succeed and “make it” in the world. Unfortunately, you can only guide them so far with your knowledge and experience. The rest is up to them to put your teachings into action.
So what should you be sharing to help them choose a career path that’s best for them?
Talk about it
Sit down with your child and go over their interests, strengths, and weaknesses. Then put together a list of some college programs and jobs they might be interested in. Once you have a list of potential career ideas, think about what skills are needed to be successful in those careers.
Remember to be realistic – just because the idea of driving a fancy car, wearing a suit, and carrying a briefcase every day may sound appealing to some, it still might not be the best fit for your child.
For example, if your child’s interests and skills involve working with their hands, being physically active, or constantly on the move, an office job in accounting might not be the best fit.
Do some research together
Now that you’ve narrowed down the field to a few areas of study and potential careers, it’s time to dig a little deeper. Have an open conversation about what motivated them to choose those careers. What are their goals for 5 or 10 years down the road?
Together, check the Bureau of Labor Statistics to understand job market potential so they know what to expect upon graduation. This can help set realistic expectations of what your child’s earning potential could be. It is especially helpful when it comes to paying back those pesky student loans.
Researching together is a great teamwork-style approach that your child might be more receptive to.
Create a professional online presence
Now you and your child have a pretty good idea of which direction they’d like to go, it’s time to start building a professional online presence. That means creating a LinkedIn Profile.
A professional profile will help with the online networking process and might help them find a business mentor.
This is also a good time to clean up existing social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. A good rule of thumb if you’re unsure about the content of a post, don’t share anything you wouldn’t want their grandparents to see. That includes any illegal activity (like underage drinking), foul language, and provocative clothing.
Engage with the Alumni Association
Assuming you have already selected a college to attend, look into the Alumni Association as they can offer opportunities for internships. They could also provide assistance with choosing a college major and finding employment after college.
College alumni offer a lot more than just “bragging rights,” as a lot of the members want to help undergraduates succeed. It helps the school with post-graduate employment ratings and brings in more students to the school.
Help your child find a Mentor
By using their LinkedIn Network and/or Alumni Association, you can help connect your child with a junior or senior year student mentor. They can help guide them with real feedback on the different programs and opportunities the school offers.
Mentors can also offer advice on which professors have helped them on their career path. Professors don’t have to be strictly educators, many of them are willing to help mentor students on campus, especially ones that have taken their classes.
You won’t necessarily have all the answers when your children come to you for guidance on choosing a potential career path. Hopefully, now you’ll be more equipped with some tips and tools to help prepare them for success.
By showing them what to look for and what information to seek, they can begin to recognize what’s important to them. It will also help them develop more critical thinking skills so they can answer other life questions as they come up in the future.