Advice For Parents
Advice for parents - Guiding your child
Some people have their mind set on a particular career, such as a doctor or a journalist, from an early age. However, what if your child isn’t sure of which career path to choose? You might find it helpful to work through the following pointers with them:
1. Find their motivation
It’s important for your child to be motivated by their career choice, both in terms of working hard to get the grades they need and progressing their career when it comes to starting work. Encourage them to think about what’s important to them in life. Money? Helping people? Being creative? This may help to guide their research into careers.
Their interests can be another useful starting point. If your child is a Formula 1 fan, would they enjoy designing cars as an automotive engineer? If their weekends are spent shopping, how about a career in managing a store – or even a whole chain of stores? Also consider with your child which subjects they are good at and what other skills they have. Perhaps they are good at speaking in front of large groups of people or working out and sticking to a budget. Keep these skills in mind when reading about different jobs.
2. Learn what’s required
Many careers are open to young people regardless of the subjects they’ve studied. This is often (but not always) the case in areas such as business, finance, law and the media. Hence, it’s fine if your child doesn’t feel ready to decide yet or wants to change path later. However, some careers do require a particular degree or vocational training path and often specific subject choices for A’ levels. This tends to be the case in areas such as Science, Medicine and Engineering. So, it’s a good idea for your child to start thinking about careers early, in order to make subject choices that leave open doors to careers that might appeal. Encourage them to investigate the careers that do require specific subjects and decide whether they are happy to rule them out or they would prefer to keep these options open.
3. Look beyond the stereotypes
Suggest that your child should take a quick look at as many career areas as possible, rather than instantly ruling any out on the basis of stereotypes or assumptions. Plenty of engineers wear suits and go to business meetings – and engineering employers are very keen to hire more women. IT professionals spend more time talking to clients about their needs than they do writing code. Lots of lawyers have jobs that don’t require them to defend people accused of unpleasant crimes.
4. Be wary of ‘safe’ choices
Take care if your child is considering an option because they think it is a ‘safe choice’ or a ‘good job’, rather than out of intrinsic interest. IT and Law, for example, have a ‘solid’ image but it may be harder than you think for your child to get their first job and not all roles will offer a high salary. Trading in an academic or vocational path your child will enjoy for assumptions about a ‘guaranteed good job’ may lead to disappointment.
5. Take a closer look
Got a shortlist? Find out more with online research. Then try networking. You and your child can ask your family and friends if they have any good contacts, attend university open days and school-leaver job fairs and look for employers who are willing to offer work experience.