The beauty of our world is that there are so many careers options to choose from. As parents, carers and teachers, exposing our young women to as many different careers options will broaden their horizons and help them select a career path that they truly love — instead of just picking a subject on the whim just because it’s popular.
It’s likely we didn’t have a detailed career conversation or career plan when we were in school— but now in our ever-changing world, it’s never too soon to start. Approaching the career conversation goes beyond asking “what do you want to be when you grow up?” To get young women off to a good start, we have five tips on how to have a career conversation.
1. Always provide support and cheer them on
There are much more career choices today than our parents had. With digitalisation, the future of work is moving at a rapid pace. As our young women figure out the things they like and don’t like, be encouraging and avoid judgement. Ask what support you can provide to help them navigate this process.
2. Ask open-ended questions
These questions require a more detailed response, rather than closed questions, which are a yes or no response. Examples of questions that are helpful are:
- When you consider jobs and careers, what sorts of things come to mind to you that you think you may like?
- Tell me what subjects you enjoy doing? What subjects do you like the least?
- When people share what they do for work, what have been some of the jobs that you thought were interesting?
The goal is to get them to think to help shape their career identity.
3. Get them to do the work
It may seem easy to tell our kids what to do and what not to do because we love them so much and believe we know what’s best. Unfortunately, having things ‘spoon-fed’ early on may set them up for failure and make it more challenging for them to work up the initiative to be a self-starter. Or perhaps they may fear disappointing you, so, therefore, will do everything you say — rather than what they actually want to do. Make them do the heavy lifting by getting them to research the career. Your job is to guide and coach them through the process.
4. No ultimatums, please
Our children’s career identities are important to us. Since they were born, we were probably thinking about what career’s they’ll have based on the personalities they develop. For some parents, certain career choices are out of bounds.
We believe everyone has a role to play in our society, so when you discourage your children from exploring a career path you didn’t want, it will be tough and may backfire. Be encouraging and show your support. You’re welcome to share your opinions and thoughts, but the choice should be up to them.
5. Make it fun
We should love what we do for work, so make it a fun experience to explore different career options. When they think that work is a burden or something that people hate, it sets them off on the wrong foot and will avoid wanting to deal with it. Again, encouraging and positive.
Have you had a career conversation with your daughter or students? How did it go? If you have any tips to share, we’d love to hear from you.
Girls of Impact offers career coaching, which is suitable for any age! Check out our Dream Job Coaching page for more information.