06 Mar, 2017
A new chapter unfolds
As I mentioned in this recent post, our firstborn is off to school in the fall, which will leave us minus one child here at home during the school year. If you follow me on Instagram you probably saw some photos from the different universities we visited awhile back:
I can hardly believe it. Sigh.
Where is she going to study? Well, we don’t know yet. She’s been accepted to three out of five schools she has applied to so far. She’s relieved to know someone out there wants her, but she is also waiting to hear back about one particular university.
Not that I would file any of these points under the “Parenting Regrets” column, but can I take a moment to make a few observations about this new chapter in our lives?
Career discussions with teens can start early, I mean REALLY EARLY
I knew I wanted to do be a writer in second grade, but not everyone is like me. That’s why it’s helpful to plant those seeds early and chat with teens and tweens about career options as soon as they start to develop their own interests. I understand that kids may not know exactly what they want to do the rest of their lives, but they are probably passionate about something: animals (future vet!), books (librarian, author, editor!), computers (programmer, game designer!), doodling (graphic design!), lemonade stands (app developers, entrepreneurs!), arguing about why they don’t need to make their bed in the morning (HELLO LAW SCHOOL). So making observations about their interests and helping them pursue them in bigger ways might be a good idea.
You know, I really don’t think young people have an idea of the thousands of different kinds of jobs there are. Many jobs escape our notice because we don’t understand them or even know they’re out there. You know what might be helpful? Going through job ads with your teen. Sit down together and head over to a site like Monster.ca or Charityvillage.com and just see what’s out there! Good topics to discuss while you’re there could include salaries, taxes, and cost of living.
Related to this: I spotted this in my Twitter feed recently. It’s also worth checking out:
What are the jobs & salaries of recent post-secondary school graduates? Use the Career Tool to find out. https://t.co/5MKlcrlb7J
— Job Bank (@JobBank_GC) February 28, 2017
Pay attention to that high school course catalog
Here’s a worst case scenario to think about. Imagine you’re a teenager who decides, in the early part of grade 12, that you want to pursue a field of study at a particular school. You look at the school’s course requirements and realize that you should have been taking math all along because now the options are (a) rethink your career aspirations or (b) take a year off and do nothing but study math. If you’re that teen I bet you are devastated. That’s why those career conversations need to start early and course selections need to be to be made strategically. Related to this, of course…
What grade average does your kid need in order to get into the school of their choice? In no way am I advocating helicopter parenting here, but it’s important to have this info at hand even if your child is doing well in school. Let’s look at the real life case of Frannie Goodstudent (not her real name). Frannie always brought home good grades, in the 80s. Her mother, Mrs. Goodstudent, also did well in high school and university and was pleased that the apple did not fall far from the tree. Frannie’s father, who was not a high-achieving student in high school, was DOUBLY proud of his daughter’s academic achievements. No need to worry about this one! And no one gave her grades a second thought until Frannie decided she wanted to go to Niche Program at Big University. They looked into it together and to their dismay, found out that it’s such a desirable program, Frannie will need high 80s or 90s to get in. Suddenly, those great marks aren’t good enough. What’s a girl like Frannie to do?
There is a reason this one deserves the ALLCAPS treatment. The importance of those extra curriculars really hit home while going through the university application process.
In Ontario, all high school students are required to do 40 hours of volunteer work before they graduate. Instead of volunteering for mindless tasks just to get their hours, kids should really think about finding volunteer opportunities that match their career aspirations, even if it’s tangential. Volunteering at a hospital, for example, would look great for someone applying to medical-related studies.
Kids, get a job.
Teens should all be working. Fullstop. Work keeps ’em out of trouble while earning some cash. As an added bonus, they gain amazing experiences and pick up lessons they will remember for the rest of their working lives. The things they learn along the way trickle over to their personal lives as well: How do you deal with angry people? Harassment? Computer problems? How do you write an email? These are skills for life.
Without revealing where our two kids are currently employed, I will say this: they are both dealing with people and having to troubleshoot/think on their feet all the time. It is awesome. I love hearing their work stories. Every single thing that happens is filed away in their brains and, in turn, shapes them into the resilient and independent young women they need to be.
Parents, we need to be realistic about what it means to work, and work towards a career
Have you ever told your kids things something along the lines of: “DO YOU WANT TO FLIP BURGERS ALL OF YOUR LIFE?” (I am guilty of this. Ugh.) Unfortunately, this line might backfire on us when our kids balk at flipping burgers for an entire summer. And here’s a newsflash: some adults work in fast food and retail because they enjoy it, need a paycheque, or all of the above. Someone needs to work at those jobs, otherwise society as we know it will fall apart.
It’s important to talk about what work life is really all about and what young people can expect when they get out into the world. Work is hard. Sometimes you will feel awful and heaven forbid, find yourself crying in a bathroom stall… or taking a nap in your car during your lunch break because you have been working so hard you can’t keep your eyes open. You will find out that some adults are just like the kids you hated in high school. You won’t feel appreciated. Sometimes, you will want to quit. But, but, but, work can also be fun, and fulfilling. It’s an opportunity to meet great people and learn new things that will expand your world and prepare you for your NEXT job, which will be bigger and better.
Wow. I guess I had a lot to say about this new chapter eh?