How can you help your child choose his/her career?
The world is changing in a mind-boggling, fast pace, and most parents nowadays find it difficult to provide adequate guidance to their children on how to navigate this increasingly complicated world. School, comparatively, is easy, but what happens after school? How do I bring up my child so that he/she is sure of which career she might choose? What are the options available to them? These are questions that plague a typical parent of the 21st century.
The first step in arriving at the right career is to be aware of what makes a job rewarding, and worth spending your entire life on. How will a person reach a point in his/her life and say “I love my job”? There are various dimensions of what we may consider as an ideal job for a person.
Before your child or you embark on a particular career choice, ask the following questions:
1. Does your child have an aptitude for this kind of work?
In other words, does your child have natural inclinations to do this particular line of work? Some children are good at languages, and they love reading. They may not be particularly good at the sciences or mathematics. It would be a crime to push such children to undertake a university course in science or math, and enter a career in engineering or medicine. These children will do well in language-related university courses and careers. Visual Communication, Mass communication, Journalism, Creative writing, and Language and Literature, are some of the areas in which they will do exceptionally well. They can go on to become excellent journalists, copy writers in the advertising field, editors, proof readers and content writers. Those children who are exceptionally good in art and designing can go on to architecture, or industrial designing, or fine arts.
The key is to take advantage of the child’s natural talents and inclinations, and not to be influenced by the current trends in the job market.
2. Is this something your child loves to do?
Some children may do very well in all subjects, and get straight A’s. but there will be some subjects that he/she particularly likes, and some others that he/she may not have a fascination for. Many children get good marks in Mathematics without really liking math. Many others get good marks in languages but are not really ‘language people’. The litmus test is to ask “Is this a job/ a university course I would love to do every day of my life/ for four years of my life?” One’s hobbies and interests are indicative or what job he/she would do well in life. Do not, at any cost, push your child into some university course or job that he/she has no interest in.
3. Will your child be able to earn a decent income?
Will this particular career pay well? Even if not so well in the initial years, will it pay well eventually? Financial considerations are not the only criterion for choosing a career, but they are a very important one. No job is worth devoting an entire life for, if it does not pay enough for your and your family’s needs.
4. Will it give your child a decent social status?
Man is a social animal, and it is our innate desire to look good in society. It is always advisable to choose a career that has social respectability. Remember that the choice of a career is not a small decision. It is a decision that can have lasting effects on your child’s life, his family life, and the life of his children, the kind of friend circle he and his children will have, and the coming generations. Therefore, choose wisely.
5. Will this job ensure your child stability and security?
No one will be happy in a highly unstable, insecure job. If you are worried about losing your job tomorrow, no matter how highly paid you are, life becomes stressful. Therefore, choose careers that have a certain level of stability and security.
6. Does the intellectual capacity and skills match the demands of the job?
A child who always had difficulty understanding scientific concepts will find it very hard to do well in an engineering or medical course, no matter how much he/she likes that career. There should be a match between one’s skills/intellectual capacity and the demands of a job. If there is, there is a high chance that you will achieve ‘flow’ states; those states of mind which allows people to perform to their best and find self-actualization.
7. Is it a meaningful career?
The final question to be asked in choosing a career is whether it is meaningful to you or not. Some jobs may not have any meaning to you. Some jobs may be against the values you hold. A person designing Barbie dolls his entire life may or may not find his job meaningful. It depends on his value system. Each person will have to assess what kind of activities he/she finds truly meaningful.
Ideally, your child should not choose a career based solely on:
- What his parents like
- How much money can be made
- What his/her friends are choosing.
- The current trend in the job market
- whether your child can work abroad
In short, the choice of a career starts from self-awareness. Your child should be able to identify what he/she has an aptitude for, loves to do, and have the capability to do. In order to be able to do that, your child should grow up as an individual, not your clone. Encourage independent exploration and reading from childhood, so that children will know what they want when they grow up. It is best not to impose too many restrictions on children when they are small. Too many such restrictions will kill individuality. Allow children to find their interests and hobbies, and slowly, clues will emerge as to which career will suit him/her best.