It’s the standard question your parents ask all the way throughout your childhood and more seriously into your teenage years. When you’re young, most will answer with the standard fireman, lawyer……………. or micro biologist in my case! That was until I realised it required an aptitude for Math and an acute attention to detail which I did not possess!
These dreams develop further with exposure and experience as you age, hopefully giving you a clear understanding of your career path ahead by the time you reach year 12. But what happens if a career path doesn’t magically appear?
Career path planning is a part of my job and it’s something I observe daily in others. It’s easy to pick the students who have a ‘Grand Plan’ and those who don’t, but don’t despair! Neither path is correct and there are ways of assisting students who fall into both categories.
My grandfather used to shake his head every time I changed jobs, often asking “what was wrong with the last one? He came from a time where companies valued loyalty and longevity, where promotion happened after a certain number of years and employees felt lucky to have such a stable job, so they stayed for 10-20 years.
“Today, the average person spends 3.3 years in each job, has 17 different
employers and 5 careers spanning over a lifetime and this
trend is forecast to increase as Millennials enter the workforce”.
I personally have had the opposite experience. Over my career so far, I have worked in the following positions; retail assistant, hospitality worker, administration assistant, designer, project manager, people manager (teams of 5-150), regional manager, aviation apprentice facilitator, marketing, event management, Internal communications and recruitment.
My point is that despite never having had a career path nicely mapped out, I developed other skills and knowledge that can’t be taught. Skills such as resilience, adaptability and the ability to sell my transferable skills to solve other people’s problems with lateral thinking.
The type of person I am describing here is a ‘Multipotentialite’, first described by Emily Wapnick in her 2015 TED Talk. A Multipotentialite is a person who is fluid in their skill set and requires a high variety of work that allows them a sense of contribution, whilst paying the bills. Essentially, she describes my career and it was a life changing moment to realise that my restlessness was actually a gift. One I would have been far happier to have had during high school instead of my mid thirties!
Now a Recruitment agency owner, I am hoping to help local students get prepared to enter the workforce with confidence. It’s a basic skill that they are just not learning in school. So here’s my top 5 ways to help your teen get ready!
1. Support – Identify early on that they seem to change their mind or have limited strong opinions on their career aspirations. Give them support and confidence to believe in their other abilities. To figure out the finer details of their personality, suggest a psychometric test like the free options available on Psych Press. http://www.psychpress.com.au/html/free-online-psychometric-tests.php
2. Trial and error – Allow them the space to try new things early on, encourage it even. They need to experience multiple options before they will feel like something is a ‘fit’.
3. Reflect – after each experience, ask them to reflect on their latest position. What aspects did they enjoy, what did they hate and what skills did they learn? This should be journaled and can be referred to when writing / updating their resume. It is at this point that they may benefit from some external career path planning.
4. Plan – Use these experiences to research possible career / study options and know that the roles and courses that they will invest in most, will be the ones that allow the widest variety of duties / topics.
5. What’s Next – Don’t allow them to dwell, it can be quite disheartening to believe that you just don’t fit the typical mold. They require encouragement and need to treat their early years more as a journey than pressure driven decision.
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Emily Wapnick TED TALK