SO: What advice have you given your kids about picking a career?

RangerPooh

DIS Veteran
Joined
Aug 6, 2005
We're not there yet, but when I was an academic advisor I'd see a lot of freshmen write on their orientation paperwork that their goal upon graduation is to have a high paying jobs that's six figures. Clearly they hadn't yet had realistic conversations about salaries. Also, don't go for the highest paying job, especially if you don't like/will struggle in the courses to get you that degree. Think about other pathways to get you to a similar career. Or if needed, think of what you're good at or what makes you happy.
 

MrsCobraBubbles

Life's too short to wear pants all the time
Joined
Jul 24, 2013
I have told both my children, especially my son because he is a sophomore in high school and the advice seems more relevant to him, to find a career that makes them happy and not worry about the money. We spend so many hours working that I think it's important to truly enjoy it!

However, my son seems determined to find a career where he will make lots of money because he says he's sick of being poor, which makes me very sad. We're not even that poor, by my standards. We have a decent roof over our heads, good food to eat, my kids have everything they need and most of what they want. It makes me sad that he thinks he needs more than that to be happy, especially when his dad and I grew up with so much less. There were plenty of times when I was growing up that I didn't have food, running water, or electricity, my son has never experienced that level of poverty. I think he needs some perspective.
 

Feralpeg

Living and Loving Windermere!
Joined
Dec 29, 2000
I told my daughter and the kids I used to teach that finding a job that fits you perfectly is very difficult. That being said, if you can find a job that you would do for fun and make a good living, you hit gold! If you find a job that will provide a good living and, even though it's not your dream job, you will enjoy going to work each day, you hit silver! If you have to go for bronze, think outside the box. Analyze what you are good at doing. Think of jobs where those skills might be a good fit. Don't just jump at something because of a paycheck. If you don't fit, or don't have the proper skills to do the job, you won't succeed. Failure is a hard thing to get around.

I really feel for kids today. So many more in the work force than when I first started working. Many have college degrees that buy them very little. When everybody has one, they don't carry as much weight with employers. Many jobs becoming obsolete. I know way to many you folks struggling to find their career. Sad.
 
  • Colleen27

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 31, 2007
    I've encouraged them to follow their interests and talents, even if it means thinking creatively about how to make a living at what they love. Not that I'd be supportive of something entirely unrealistic like rock star or whatever. but I do believe there are ways to adapt most interests to be marketable and I know from experience that good money alone doesn't make up for hating the job you do every day.

    We also pushed hard on no or very low debt for undergrad, which makes it much easier to make a reasonable living even in fields with modest entry-level salaries.
     

    nordkin

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 22, 2005
    We told our 3 that college is not for everyone and to find a career that could not be sent off shore. They are all now in their 30’s and all love their jobs. The youngest is a much sought after auto mechanic who specializes in restoring classic cars who adores his job. The middle child moved to Florida with his wife and child and runs 3 marinas for a boat club. He too loves his job. The oldest is the only one who chose college and works for the Dept. Of Justice. Until recently she loved her job, but is talking about moving to private industry after the last govt. shutdown. They all chose their own path and as long as they are happy and self supporting we are happy for them.
     
  • sjrec

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 31, 2016
    I can’t remember my husband and I giving much guidance-it seems like she went off to college knowing what she wanted to do.
    My daughter became an elementary school librarian partly because she admired and was fond of the librarians she worked with in elementary and high school. The were wonderful role models. Even with cutbacks and budget issues she loves her job. And now that she has a child it is an ideal situation for family life. Her husband is also in education-they’ll never be extremely wealthy, but they will retire with a good pension and benefits.
     

    lorimay

    🎃🍁🌻
    Joined
    Dec 11, 2008
    Yesterday was "Take your Kids to Work Day here in South Florida and my daughter brought her kids for the first time to her office.
    Her 10 year old son says to her "Mom, how do you do this all day?" :rotfl2::rotfl2::rotfl2: She cracked up and told him find what you love to do and do it buddy!
     

    luvsJack

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 3, 2007
    We told our 3 that college is not for everyone and to find a career that could not be sent off shore. They are all now in their 30’s and all love their jobs. The youngest is a much sought after auto mechanic who specializes in restoring classic cars who adores his job. The middle child moved to Florida with his wife and child and runs 3 marinas for a boat club. He too loves his job. The oldest is the only one who chose college and works for the Dept. Of Justice. Until recently she loved her job, but is talking about moving to private industry after the last govt. shutdown. They all chose their own path and as long as they are happy and self supporting we are happy for them.
    This is so true! So many parents focus on college and 4 year or longer degrees. There are so many options out there.

    Vocational training, technical degrees/training, certifications, and old fashioned “get your foot in the door and work your way up” are all good choices and can all lead to successful careers.

    Just figured what you want to be and if you want it bad enough to take the “trip” to get to your goals. Find that and you find your career.
     

    Distinkt

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    I am surprised by the replies of the parents on here who state that they either offered no advice, or told their children to find something they loved with little or no guidance. We watched our children at home and at school from an early age, and tried to evaluate what they were interested in doing and learning about and then tried to suggest fields that would integrate with those interests. We encouraged them to make the most of the courses in their areas of interest, but to also take challenging courses in other areas to make them well rounded. We also helped them identify the general field that they wanted to pursue in college, because its too expensive to just go to college without an end goal (although I do think the college experience is a great advantage in the maturation process). However, college is not for everyone and technical trades are great for some.

    I would suggest you talk to your child about his interests. Does he do well in STEM courses, the arts, or the softer sciences? Does he want to have a lot of exposure to the public or work in a field with little interaction?What were his interests since childhood, did he build, or paint, or pretend to teach? All these are hints into what area might be a good career fit. Everyone wants to make a decent living or better, but working at a job that is drudgery can be stifling. Thankfully we were able to guide our children to careers that they love.
     
  • luvsJack

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 3, 2007
    I am surprised by the replies of the parents on here who state that they either offered no advice, or told their children to find something they loved with little or no guidance. We watched our children at home and at school from an early age, and tried to evaluate what they were interested in doing and learning about and then tried to suggest fields that would integrate with those interests. We encouraged them to make the most of the courses in their areas of interest, but to also take challenging courses in other areas to make them well rounded. We also helped them identify the general field that they wanted to pursue in college, because its too expensive to just go to college without an end goal (although I do think the college experience is a great advantage in the maturation process). However, college is not for everyone and technical trades are great for some.

    I would suggest you talk to your child about his interests. Does he do well in STEM courses, the arts, or the softer sciences? Does he want to have a lot of exposure to the public or work in a field with little interaction?What were his interests since childhood, did he build, or paint, or pretend to teach? All these are hints into what area might be a good career fit. Everyone wants to make a decent living or better, but working at a job that is drudgery can be stifling. Thankfully we were able to guide our children to careers that they love.
    Too much guidance can come back to bite, though. Kids can have a wide range of interests but that doesn’t mean those interests are going to develop into their dream job.

    My middle child has always been a whiz at computers. Everyone just naturally thought he would do something with computers. He entered college 16 years ago in programming. Did great in all the classes. Hated it. Not sure why. But what he likes is something that is challenging and that he uses his mind to figure out. The career might have got him to that but the classes did not.

    My oldest was an athlete. Like, sports were his world. Thought he would coach. Nope. He looked around saw the pay and changed his mind. He works offshore, volunteer coaches and is happy being a sports fan.

    Not all interests translate to a desired career. Which is why my question to my three, has always been, what kind of life do you desire.
     

    brockash

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 16, 2008
    Spill Off of How Did you Pick your Career thread.

    DW and I told out kids to decide what their priorities are. Job satisfaction or pay and benefits. Of course the ideal career would give you both, but that may be hard to find.
    I tell mine to think about their priorities/quality of life. Find a career that pays pretty decent/would work with your priorities and that you dont hate/dislike. When I was growing up all we ever heard was to find something you love... well I've gotta say there's not really anything I can think of that I'd love getting up every morning for and for someone who didnt have any extremely high passion for anything I really felt like I just didnt have much direction and that I wanted a lot of time when I was younger trying to figure out what I wanted to do.
     

    Colleen27

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 31, 2007
    I am surprised by the replies of the parents on here who state that they either offered no advice, or told their children to find something they loved with little or no guidance. We watched our children at home and at school from an early age, and tried to evaluate what they were interested in doing and learning about and then tried to suggest fields that would integrate with those interests. We encouraged them to make the most of the courses in their areas of interest, but to also take challenging courses in other areas to make them well rounded. We also helped them identify the general field that they wanted to pursue in college, because its too expensive to just go to college without an end goal (although I do think the college experience is a great advantage in the maturation process). However, college is not for everyone and technical trades are great for some.
    I think I kind of lucked out with my kids. The two who are at the choosing careers stage kind of always knew what they wanted to be. DS21 asked for his first welder when he was 12 and has had an increasingly well-equipped metal shop in our basement since he was 13. He built motorized long boards and all sorts of goofy things as a kid. He's in a welding program now. DD17 developed a fascination with ocean life when she was in elementary school and started talking about going into environmental/biological research in middle school. Her first-ever science fair project was an experiment testing how weed killer run off impacted bottom-of-the-food chain organisms that live in our local river. She did two marine biology field research camps in high school, and her interest has never wavered - she is planning on environmental science as her undergrad and specializing in marine life in grad school.

    I suspect DD10 will need more guidance. She's a lot more "average"/normal kid than my older two were, bouncing from interest to interest without any unusual sustained focus on any one area or profession, though she's talked about combining teaching and drama (her only real "passion" so far is acting) like her theatre club mentor and her godfather both do - they're both English & history teachers who lead high school drama programs and act in regional productions on the side.
     

    sjrec

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 31, 2016
    I listened but didn’t offer advice unless it was asked for. At one point my daughter thought she might be interested in physical therapy-her father and I knew her strengths didn’t lie in the sciences, but we kept quiet and let her research it herself-and she came to the same conclusion on her own.
     
    Last edited:

    sk!mom

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 30, 2000
    As she gets older I will STRONGLY advise against the helping professions like social work, teaching, and healthcare. You can earn a good living and do important work, but the job will absolutely drain you and change you fundamentally. These are professions where you will work yourself to the bone, and your achievements will rarely be praised, but any minor transgression will be treated as a monumental failure. I've been in more trouble over a patient not liking my attitude than a nurse who didn't check a name, gave a wrong medication and killed a man. It's a messed up world.
    Teacher here and you Described my thoughts so well. The teacher shortage is growing due to all that you stated.

    Yesterday was "Take your Kids to Work Day here in South Florida and my daughter brought her kids for the first time to her office.
    Her 10 year old son says to her "Mom, how do you do this all day?" :rotfl2::rotfl2::rotfl2: She cracked up and told him find what you love to do and do it buddy!
    Ha! DH did that years ago and both our kids quickly decided that accounting wasn’t for them.

    As to the original question... I encouraged my kids to pursue interests that would
    Lead to careers. DD22 graduated last May. Because we could fund college, she had the leeway to pursue interest without worrying too much about where it would lead. Her plan 4 years ago was a job in social media. Most of our friends raised their eyebrows and DH and I just shrugged. She was a good student and a go getter who wanted to be in a big city so we figured she would be debt free with a college degree so it would all work out.

    Upon leaving college last May, she
    Moved to a big city and took a job in marketing for a bank. It was OK. It paid the bills and got her to the city she wanted. Last month she started her “dream job” as the social media and PR specialist for a large company.

    It’s perfect for her but I never could have steered her in that direction since just a few years ago we didn’t know that a career in Social Media would be a thing.

    BTW. Her degree is in Interdisciplinary Art and Design Management.
     

    mousefan73

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 9, 2012
    Having a job “you love” is a very high bar. Better is a job that you don‘t hate, pays a living and offers flexability. Nothing worse waking up with dread you have to go to work.

    My kids are still young. But I have hinted to them you need to look for careers that show growth in the future. So many jobs today will be gone because of AI. Their career should also be in a field that interest them. And believe it or not there are great good companies out there and I would wish that my kids How are given the same opportunities as I
     

    TexasBee

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Aug 13, 2007
    We've told her she can pick pretty much any major she wants but she has to take at least 3 accounting classes. Pretty much everyone I know does nothing related to their actual major (unless they were in premed / medical), but accounting classes will go a long way towards a lot of things. I would *prefer* she not pick something like Art History or English, but we'll see. She's in 10th grade right now so is still doing a lot of college shopping.
     

    jaiminee krikit

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 23, 2013
    So about 2 years ago, DD16 decided she wanted to be a doctor. She was still pretty young, so I didn't take it very seriously but deep down thought "Please no". The amount of schooling, the cost, and the idea of her working nonstop for many years made me, well, sad. Then she wanted to be a Radio City Rockette, but we're pretty sure she has stopped growing at 5'3" (minimum height is 5'6" :(). Well she then decided she wanted to be a nurse. DD is a genuinely sweet, considerate, friendly person and I could see her being an amazing nurse. She wants to travel, and I have a friend who is a nurse and has lived in many places all over the country, even Hawaii, so I thought it would be perfect. We've researched colleges and were figuring out what classes she should take next year to prepare for that major. Then, just this weekend, she went back to wanting to be a doctor. A pediatrician to be exact. I know I shouldn't try to talk her out of it, but I just don't know. I feel like she would get burnt out going to school for 12+ years. She is such a good people person, I think that's part of what would make her a great nurse. I don't know. Is it bad that I actually don't want my daughter to be a doctor?!
     

    jaybirdsmommy

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 27, 2008
    I posted earlier but have another one I forgot to add: Consider where you want to live when picking a college major. A co-worker's daughter got a degree in that really requires a large city to be profitable. They live in a tiny rural town, she went home after graduation and never had any intention of relocating. Her degree is useless where they live.
     



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