What career advice would you give your kid?

Recently, at Media Day, a young Asian enterntainment reporter told high school students how disappointed her parents were in her career choice. She said they wanted her to be an engineer or scientist, a path more Asians take. She explained that her parents finally came around when they saw that she actually got a job in her field, and they realized she was happy.

Her story got me thinking….It's so hard to advise our kids on career paths today because industries are changing so rapidly. I am in the thick of guiding my daughter on what colleges she should apply to and how her career choice plays into that decision. It led to today's Miami Herald column.



Work/Life Balancing Act

Dear daughter, let me give you some career advice …

Preparing for the New Economy requires a focus on developing skill sets rather than navigating rigid career paths.

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John Swartz is regional director of career services at Everest College.



            My daughter, a high school junior, wants to be a teacher. That doesn’t sit well with my husband, who worries about the state of education and the job outlook. He and I regularly debate whether we should encourage her to pursue this interest, or strongly steer her in another direction.

Today, coaching our kids about career paths is complicated. Many of my reporter and editor friends who witnessed an overhaul of the media world are highly opposed to their kids becoming journalists. Where parents of the past pushed their kids to follow in their footsteps, we want the generation of college-bound kids we raise to go where the jobs will be.

American workers’ experiences during the recession and the uncertainty of the global economy have made many of us more opinionated about what careers our kids pursue. We have witnessed job loss and burnout. We have seen highly educated professionals such as lawyers and bankers lose their jobs. And worse, we have seen college graduating classes face an overwhelmingly tough employment arena. While it’s true that a college degree usually guarantees better wages, the mantra of parents clearly has become: Can you land a decent-paying job with that degree?      

      As parents, we’re just beginning to understand that the next generation will have to navigate the workplace differently. Experts forecast that workers starting out now will switch careers — that’s careers, not jobs — an average of more than three times during their lives. Should parents, then, worry less about guiding our kids into careers and focus more on helping our kids identify skills to succeed in the new economy?

Whether my daughter becomes a teacher or an engineer, her success likely will come from a mastery of technology, languages and communications skills. Most importantly, she will need the mindset to be a problem solver, innovator, risk taker and self marketer. She will need to be prepared to continuously acquire new skills, a lesson my generation has learned the hard way.

“We are fooling ourselves to think young people will get a degree and spend the next 20 years at a single company or in a single industry,” says John Swartz, regional director of career services at Everest College, which has campuses in 30 cities including Miami. “They will have to be more focused on dealing with change. In this new world order, they have to follow the jobs in demand, acquire the right skills or at least transferable skills, and know that the skill set needed might change.”

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The Work/Life Balancing Act

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