Is the Career Advice We Give Our Children Crushing Their Futures?

Is the Career Advice We Give Our Children Crushing Their Futures?
From Recruiter - September 6, 2017

Once, during the question and answer session following a keynote speech of mine, a rather dignified and well-dressed gentleman vigorously raised his hand. His body language seemed uncomfortable and angry. Of course, he was my first pick.

The man asked, What do you have to tell these young people who want to pursue a feel good degree like environmental science? I paused for quite a long time, allowingthe question to sink into the audience.

Then, I answered: Well, actually, I was thinking that environmental science is a rather courageous and vital career choice.

Continuing, I said that since todays college graduates arelikely to change careers a few times in their lives, we need an entirely new approach to preparing students for the future of work. Many of the jobs our children will pursue have yet to be invented. In a world of constant change, we ought to be helping young people identify what they love and what is meaningful to them.

For those of us who grew up in the shadow of the Second Industrial Revolution, this must sound like pig latin.However, Id insist that finding work you love is important to everyone, at every stage of their career. Successful change requires wakefulness, learning, engagement, and new skills. And while change requires courage, we ought to be far more frightened of living with ambivalence or even hatred for our work. Without love and passion, were unlikely to succeed in our careers.

After the event came to an end, the well-dressedman quickly walked over. He brought up the possibility of my coming to speak at an organization he serves. As it turned out, the man ran two career development programs for one of the most prominent charter schools in America.

I thought of this well-meaning man railing againstfeel good degrees in one of the countrys more sophisticated communities. Such advice is all too common. For many, it is an automatic response to the world today. Unfortunately, it can perpetuate mistruths for young people regarding how they should pursue meaningful futures.

Today, we need to change the way we go about planning careers. We need to learn how to derive security from growth. The four-year or graduate degree isno longer an endpoint, but a license to learn. It is an introductory course to active learning. This iswhat healthy, vital, and coveted employers look for in new hires first and foremost. As active learners can attest, becoming one introduces you to a world of growth unlike anythingyouve ever seen before.

If you are a parent, make sure your children are getting healthy, realistic career development support at school and at home. Tomorrows talent pool will be full of entrepreneurs, disruptors, problem-solvers, and teachers tacklingjobs that have not even been invented yet. Creativity will be in demand. In fact, an MFA is far more salable today than an MBA. Empathy is another trait whose importance will only grow in the business world going forward.

More importantly, we need to teach our children to sellto draw healthy attention to themselves, to connect with others skillfully, and to buildcommunities tailored to their unique mission, vision, and purpose.


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