I am not an expert on child rearing, but I am an expert in career planning, so it seems to me that I should be pretty good at helping my kids find careers. Here are things I’m doing:
1. Exposing them to the idea that career is important.
I do a lot of career coaching, and I do most of it in the car, while I’m driving the kids long distances. The coaching makes the drive better for me, and an unplanned offshoot is that the kids are learning about how to focus on issues surrounding a career. The best quote from the back seat: “Mom! Tell him to take the Myers Briggs test!”
2. Make plans so you are ready to steer the kids when they are ready.
Everywhere I go I am thinking about what my kids will do for a living. My older son wanted to be a potter, I (disregarded the problem of likely poverty and) got him an apprenticeship with a local potter. Then he wanted to be a paleontologist, so I told him we are going to go on a dinosaur dig so he can see if he likes that. He says he will.
I try not to push, but I confess that I have a plan for his career already in the works: First go on a dinosaur dig, then send him back to the same place to become certified to lead the digs. Then help him get an internship working with a university paleontologist, and figure out how to leverage that relationship to get a free ride into college.
3. Encourage the kids to have career discussions of their own.
When other adults think I’m out of ear shot, they quiz my kids. Just to see if they are learning anything. They quiz the kids in math. Probably because adults don’t remember enough science or history to come up with a fast, furtive question.
My youngest son has heard it so much that he said the other day, “Mom, I need to learn some math.”
I said, “Okay. We’ll start today. We can do fifteen minutes a day.”
My older son said, “That’s so stupid. Why would you learn math? The only thing you can do with that is be a cashier.”
“How about paleontology? I think that’s a good career because you get paid whether or not you find anything.”
“Okay. You’re right. Mom, I don’t want to learn math. But I don’t like paleontology. I like fashion. And I know what girls like. So I’ll be a bra designer.”