Have you often wondered at a parent-teachers’ meeting about how some parents could have so many queries about their own children?
Do you not agree that more than a teacher, it is the parent who knows the strengths and weaknesses of his/her own child better?
If you are nodding all the way in agreement, then go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back. You have probably earned the highest degree in parenting- You know your child well enough! You have done your job well!
Also, it takes you to a much bigger springboard and a big decision-making moment: planning a career for your teenager. Even though it is the child’s decision ultimately, career planning is not something that can be left to the child entirely. It does require adult intervention and supervision. Career choice and planning require a detailed in-depth study of the available options, a careful analysis of the market and future trends, an assessment of the child’s aptitude and interest levels.
The best way out is to catch them young, as they say, or in other words – Start Planning Early!
Early career planning can help your kids focus strongly on their goals and be motivated enough to pursue them when the time comes. By the time they reach the 8th grade, you as a parent are in a fair position to gauge the area of interest of your child and his capabilities.
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Why start early? Why not let kids take their own sweet time to decide by the time they reach Class 10/12?
Because an early start gives them just the right impetus, much in the same way an early riser gets a good extra three-four hours in a day. An early start in career planning can add two years to their career selection journey, and encourages them to focus on those basics which they might use later in life.
Let’s look at it through an example:
Tanish and Arpita were together at school since Grade 1. They were great friends and loved science experiments, loved to talk and explore interesting discoveries and inventions.
Tanish was all along quite interested in Robotics as well. His parents knowing well his interest in this field, had always encouraged and ensured his participation in science quizzes, seminars and symposiums organized by his school where he performed exceedingly well. Tanish’s parents decided to send him for specialised and advanced coaching in Science subjects when he was in Grade 8, knowing fairly well that he would make a great career in the Science stream.
The focused coaching did wonders for Tanish. By the time Tanish reached Grade 10, his basics became so strong that he was able to crack most questions from higher competitive exams much before his time. He went onto win an international competition as well, which won him a trip to NASA and the added experience enriched him further.
His friend Arpita had been equally bright and his partner in most of his inter-school participations. But being a carefree sort of a girl, coupled with little parental involvement, Arpita landed up a little lost and out of focus by the time she reached Grade 10. While she did choose the subjects of her choice, she ended up in the same pool of students she had an edge over previously due to her keen interest and intellect.
Having seen the anxiousness and fear in minds of most parents and kids about the future, I decided to list down the real-time advantages of early career planning.
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5 Benefits of Early Career Planning
- Students get a fair amount of time for in-depth research and planning.
- In case there are additional skills to be acquired, or preparation to be done for a particular career (for e.g., cracking an entrance exam), it too can be planned well in advance.
- It gives students a fair bit of time for trial-and-error and exploration, especially those who change their minds frequently.
- It can help build focus and ambition by setting clear goals to aspire towards.
- It minimizes distractions since a focused child knows what is expected of her and works towards it.
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Is it too early to think about a career in class 8th/ 9th ?
No, it is not. In fact, it would be most apt to reiterate the old saying- The early bird catches the worm!
With greater and stiffer competition in all fields, most students would be better off with an early start in career planning, with a greater hold over their basics of Class 8th and 9th which form the base of higher learning and also for the competitive exams they might be sitting for in the near future.
Grades 8 and 9 are the crucial years for honing varied interests or calibre of your child. It’s just the right time to allow your child to explore their interests further and build the skills needed for it. Maybe a sports enthusiast could be pushed in for rigorous coaching –to make it to the nationals, or a civil services aspirant might begin focusing more on expanding his general awareness. Overseas aspirants may utilize this time to gather information to find out most suitable colleges or universities and prepare for aptitude tests and building their profile.
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How to start career planning for your child in Class 8/9
You’re convinced that you want to start out early, but how do you go about it exactly? Here are a few tips.
1. Go beyond their interests and passions
Begin by actually working on your child’s likes, dislikes, values and physical and mental makeup. What may be a good choice for someone else may not be apt for your child. If your child admires a leader or a politician or a rock star, it doesn’t mean he’ll do well in that profession. Only if he displays the aptitude for it should you think about it. A close interaction with a career counsellor will reveal a lot about these attributes.
2. Explore the learning, work, and future professional options
Read up about the career prospects, the job market, the upcoming trends and the projected trends 7 to 10 years down the line and also about the alternatives available. The internet is full of accessible resources. Alternatively, you may find everything you need in the Mindler Career Library.
3. Shortlist a few options
As you explore hundreds of career options, you’ll begin to find which ones work and which ones don’t. As you do this, you’ll move closer to finding the best-fit for your child. Of course, finalizing an option may be a tad bit too early at this stage but keeping all eggs together may not be harmful in this context.
4. But avoid being rigid in your approach/ decision
In this entire process, do not lose sight that your role is to support, not to decide. You can only guide your child and open them up to options, but the final choice should be left up to the child. Keep an open mindset, be open to changes and make sure you don’t push your opinions on the kid.
5. Encourage them to evaluate themselves
While you may have a fair understanding of what your child is good/bad at, getting a proper evaluation done makes the process much more accurate. An analysis of their personality, aptitude, abilities, interests and weakness would set up the perfect base on which to base your career planning on. A professional evaluation, through a career assessment, is the easiest and most reliable way to do this.
6. Assess your access to help
Figure out what all actions could help your child achieve his goals. Where could he get help from? Inspire your child by introducing him to distinguished people of his targeted professions. An aspiring scientist could be introduced to the biographies of scientists like Prof. Abdul Kalam to keep inspiration levels high always. Seek professional help to fine tune your learning goals and plans for your child.
7. Help them test the waters
Volunteering at various events and organizations, taking up internships, visiting career fairs, attending community events- all these things help a child find out more about what a particular profession is like. This hands-on experience helps a great deal in making decisions. For e.g., Rhea’s participation in a ‘Create a Mad-Ad’ contest at school made her think strongly about pursuing Advertising as a career.
8. Talk or spend a day with professionals
If you can manage to have this done through your own network or beyond it, it would be wonderful to give your child the actual experience of the professions she seems inclined for. A day with a doctor or a fashion designer or an IT professional would go a long way in giving her the much-needed exposure to different fields and what they entail.
The best part about starting early is that you can help establish a firm foundation for your child, and give them enough time to experiment, explore, and discover things about themselves, that will eventually help them in their career journey. Remember that success is made when the rest of the world is fast asleep!
And if you feel that you cannot do all of this on your own, consult a career counsellor to show you the way.