Mothers want the best for their children, both now and in the future. That is why there is no better time to begin a discussion about career exploration, but how can parents begin this process? Career exploration is not a one-time discussion or activity. This is something that should be ongoing from toddler years through young adulthood but it does not need to feel like a research project or lecture.
Getting Started with Younger Children
Many might think that preschool children are too young to begin investigating careers, but this is untrue. Spending time with your child is essential for the parent-child relationship as well as the mental well-being of the child. Dialogue about careers can begin at this early age. Try sitting down with your child and asking them what they would like to do when they are a grown-up. This question is more beneficial than the traditional “What do you want to be when you grow up?” as it opens up more dialogue between you and your child. For example, your child might say they would like to help people or work with animals. This allows you to introduce your child to more careers than just the traditional doctor or veterinarian responses.
Career Exploration through Interests
Targeting the interests of children is the best way to further discussion of career exploration. Although some schools are beginning to implement career exploration in the classroom, the national norm is that students do not begin investigating careers or interests until upper middle school and high school levels. Cajon Valley School District in California uses the SuperStrong® assessment (derived from the Strong Interest Inventory® tool) through the VitaNavis® platform to pinpoint student interests. As Ed Hidalgo, Chief Innovation and Engagement Officer at Cajon Valley Union School District, mentions in his Ted Talks, parents, teachers, and counselors can use several tools to pinpoint student interests, such as the Strong Interest Inventory assessment published by The Myers-Briggs Company. The assessments tie into understanding the individual child’s strengths, interests, and values. When children and adolescents have a clear understanding of these three components of themselves, they can better understand how they individually align with the world of work and their future.
Discussion without Persuasion
Career exploration is about the individual interests and talents of the child. It is not about the parent or the goals the parent has for her children. You must fully understand that this is not an opportunity for you to steer your child into a career that you think would best suit them or qualifies by your definition as “successful”. It isn’t enough to have a job that provides for our needs and those of our family. As humans, we have a deeper need for fulfillment and this needs to be stressed to our children. They need to be encouraged to pursue career options that will give them a sense of fulfillment rather than searching for careers based on the salary amount. Try to point your children to careers outside of your own experiences. There are several tools that you can access to assist your child in discovering both traditional career options and nontraditional options.
No one will have a greater impact on your child than you will. Spend time with them, learn their interests, values, and talents, and help guide them down a path of career exploration and self-discovery. The resources listed below can help you and your child begin your journey on career exploration.
Innovation Labs is a division of The Myers-Briggs Company. Our mission is to create equality in education by allowing all students the opportunity to self-explore and find career paths that are right for them. The VitaNavis® platform is how we can achieve that. The VitaNavis platform is a campus-wide solution that leverages interest and personality insights to help students find their purpose. When given the opportunity to explore all career possibilities and choose a path, students are more likely to persist in school, leading to higher engagement and retention. Learn more at get.vitanavis.com.
Categories: Career Exploration Resources