WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME?
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” - Mark Twain
Some children decide at a very early age what it is they wish to pursue for a career. But for the large majority of children, the process of selecting a career path is deferred until the final year of high school, occasionally right up to the application deadline date. Whether this delay is due to procrastination, frustration or confusion, such a practice often leads to students simply following the path of least resistance. They choose a program recommended to them by someone else or one that continues down the same path they aimlessly followed throughout high school. While this may appear lazy or half-hearted, the truth is that such a practice is the result of the student having had very little exposure to the options available to them, a lack of knowledge of where or what to look for and minimal time to explore alternatives. They cannot be expected to know what they don’t know. It is for this reason, we believe in heeding Twain’s advice above - get started early.
The average ‘Tween’ is too young to give serious consideration to a career plan. After all, their careers will not begin for what is literally more than a half-lifetime away (eight years is a long time to a thirteen year old). However, that doesn’t preclude them from beginning the process in a less regimented or even recognizable fashion. At the early stages (grades eight through ten), children should worry only about opening their minds to the myriad of options available to them and categorizing those options into related families which can be evaluated together. Focus on developing a long list of interesting career options, it can be sorted out later.
As students progress through the middle years (grades ten and eleven), the focus should shift to gaining experience in those areas of interest. Take it for a test drive if you will. Select your high-school courses to align with the career path(s) under consideration, take a part-time job, volunteer, consider taking co-op in grade twelve, speak with people who work in the fields if possible. Gain some first-hand experience by exploring some of the better options to see if there may be a fit.
With a full slate of options, the students can use their senior years to narrow their selections down instead of scrambling to create a list of last-minute alternatives. By spending some time to gain an understanding of who they are and what their needs and preferences might be, the narrowing process can begin and students can then research and dig deeper into a smaller select number of career options under consideration. Ideally the student will be able to retain two or three related alternatives that they can pursue at the same time so as to keep multiple options open for the future.
Regardless of how engaged a child might be, it is always prudent to follow a process when career planning and it is best to begin the process early. As many astute parents have advised their youngsters from an early age:
‘You can be anything you want to be’,
but ... do you want to be just anything?
If you need help in getting started, consider Dynamic Career Planning’s ‘Inspiration’ seminar to get you off on the right foot.