Children and Careers

Paul Romani

Children and Careers
Think ‘Passion / Talent’ not ‘Traditional Profession’


Are children too young to think about careers? No!

However much you may feel that your child is too young to think about their future career, there is nothing worse than having no aspirations, no idea what you want to study at university (or even if you want to go to university), and no idea what you want to do with your life.
That’s often the situation young adults find themselves in, and it all goes back to their childhood.
Thinking about what you want to be makes you think about what you’re good/bad at, what you (don’t) need, and what you (don’t) enjoy.
For example, in my teenage years, I continually changed my mind about what I wanted to be:

  • An airline pilot
  • A lawyer
  • A police officer

In the end, I didn’t become any of these! What is more, I have changed profession numerous times!
So, was having these aspirations a waste of time? Of course not! It made me constantly evaluate myself. It made me think about what I really want from a career, what I want to achieve, as well as what I have to offer.
However, I wish that I’d had less of a traditional notion of career types.
When I grew up, everything and everyone from the media to families to career advisers couldn’t seem to see beyond the traditional professions: doctor, dentist, veterinarian, and so on.
But, you know what? In the REAL world, traditional jobs are becoming extinct and completely new professions are being created. The career (one of many) that your child has probably doesn’t even exist today.
Trying to groom your child for a specific, traditional career doesn’t make much sense anymore. Traditional jobs that still exist are becoming more competitive and less rewarding.

What your child wants to be when they grow up

Sir Ken Robinson has done an amazing job of talking about how education and society take children’s passions away from them to make them conform to traditional expectations. However, Sir Ken’s focus has always been more on performing arts.
In general, it’s important for us to:

  • Acknowledge and nurture your child’s strengths, as well as
  • Work on your child’s weaknesses

Quite often, children have strengths that aren’t fully appreciated or aren’t considered as important as traditional skills:

  • Leadership abilities
  • Communication skills
  • Performing talents (e.g. singing, dancing, acting)
  • Art
  • Cooking
  • Making things or using their hands
  • Computer programming
  • Strategy / Problem solving
  • Open-mindedness
  • Games abilities (incl. eye-hand coordination)

Traditional skills stem back to fact-based learning: what do you know vs what can you do. It also still revolves a lot around pen and paper-based learning – pretty sad for the 21st century.
I’m sure all of us can relate to how much of what we studied at schools was irrelevant compared to what we actually do/know/use today.
Regardless of traditional expectations, it’s essential to nurture your child’s whole self. What is more, it’s important to not judge your child’s ambitions.
If your child wants to be a dancer, the prime minister, an actor,  a magician, or whatever, let them embrace those ambitions.
Having ambitions is a great motivator to want to excel both in-and-out of school.