Teaching Kids About Careers

This week I spoke to 20 elementary school children (Kindergarten through 3rd grade), about careers.  The beauty of working with kids is you have to be clear, direct, and not use jargon.  In that spirit, I’d like to share three keys to career exploration we can all adopt using the eyes of children.

  1. You Can’t Be What You Can’t See

This straightforward saying gets to the root of why job exploration is important.  We tend to train for and aspire to roles that we can see.  We need to experience job opportunities.  We must be aware that they exist.  The longer we work in one industry, or one company, or one role, the more likely we are to filter out other possibilities.  We unconsciously develop tunnel vision.

Lesson: actively search out and experience other industries and jobs. 

  1. Share

Sharing is a fundamental component of elementary school education.  The adult’s fancy term for sharing is networking, but sharing is at the core.  All of us have unique skills and strengths.  The key is to share those gifts with others, and to develop new skills by having others share their knowledge.  The wider we cast our sharing, the better – share with people in your family, community, state, nation, and finally the world.

Lesson: sharing gives you power and influence.

  1. Learn

In the beginning we learn primarily from our parents.  Then teachers when we attend school.  But we can accelerate our learning by expanding the number and diversity of our learning sources.  We can learn from peers, mentors, podcasts, classes, reading books, etc.

Lesson: the more we learn, the more career options we have. 

The Big Take Away…

When we learn something new, we are paying ourselves, but the payment is invisible.  I call this the “Gift of Learning.”  When we share our knowledge with others in the future, the learning becomes visible through pay, results, and/or impacting others’ lives.

Teachers share the familiar story of meeting a former student that regrets not working harder in school to learn and get better grades.  The older person now feels the impact of having fewer skills.  Their lack of ability is now visible.  Become a lifelong learner to prevent career regret.

Bottom Line

Think like a child.  Keep it simple and direct.  Explore multiple opportunities, share your unique abilities, and be a lifelong learner.

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