3 ways to build clarity on your child’s career choice

Photo by Jens Lelie on Unsplash

“I don’t think there is much scope in Cognitive Science”, said Amy’s father one Sunday evening during our introductory call where I was getting them acquainted with Power Club.

It’s only natural for parents to want the best for their children, and they often worry about the potential challenges and uncertainties that might come with certain career choices. They hope for paths that offer more stability, less uncertainty, and promising rewards. However, it’s crucial to understand that what parents perceive as a good career option might not align with their child’s aspirations and passions.

As a coach and mentor, I’ve witnessed this dilemma numerous times. Young minds may harbor dreams and ambitions that differ from what their parents envision for them.

So, how do you handle a situation where what you think is the best career path for your child is different from a path that they have chosen? As a parent, it’s difficult. You want them to spread their wings but also keep them grounded to reality. How do you clear the fog of uncertainty that you have regarding the choice they want to make?

In the realm of fostering a profound connection between parents and their children’s career choices, three pivotal facets emerge as beacons of clarity and support. In my personal experience, I have found that these three aspects can instill a sense of certainty in any parent regarding their child’s career path.

Let’s dive right in!

Step 1: Understand the job environment

It’s entirely natural for parents to feel skeptical when their child approaches them with a newfound passion, especially when the child might have limited knowledge about the practicalities of the chosen path. As a parent with years of experience, you are aware that success in any career isn’t solely about generating innovative ideas or creating something remarkable. It entails numerous tasks, some mundane and less exciting, that contribute to overall success.

To effectively evaluate your child’s career choice, it is essential to begin by gaining a clear understanding of what a typical day entails for a professional in that domain. This process involves becoming aware of various aspects of the job that your child might not find as appealing but would be willing to embrace as part of their journey.

For example, a writing job that involves handling client grievances or a research job that requires you to keep writing proposals to get your research grant. Go through this great resource to get started, Role Models’ videos on CareerGirls, I have seen that a conversation with people who are actually doing that job right now is quite effective. Encourage your child to find such people on LinkedIn and request an informational interview. You’ll be amazed at how responsive people are to share their stories and knowledge.

Step 2: Understand the lifestyle

Adulting also involves determining the type of lifestyle you aspire to lead, calculating the necessary income to sustain that lifestyle, and assessing the likelihood of earning that amount in the career you eagerly wish to pursue.

Do the same for your child by creating an approximation of the cost of living in the city where they envision working in after completing college. Then, compare this with the average starting salaries in their preferred profession. This can give you and your child a clear view of the lifestyle they can have in their preferred career choice.

For example, you may realize that many event planners or community managers cannot lead a “lavish lifestyle” in a metropolitan area. You can also check out Numbeo’s Cost of Living Estimator for a basic understanding of different expenses and how your child may need to budget for them. Since this doesn’t take into account income tax, insurance and any emergency expenses, multiply the final value by 1.5 to get a fair idea of what your child needs to make in a month.

Step 3: Understand the preparation required

You might be wondering if your child will stay committed for the duration of time required in many careers, especially those that demand years of experience or additional degrees beyond undergrad. Careers that involve managing others or require deep domain knowledge often necessitate substantial preparation. To assess whether your child is prepared for this commitment, it’s crucial to understand the typical qualifications and background that companies expect from candidates in the desired role. Engage them in a discussion about their readiness to dedicate the necessary time and effort.

For instance, research might reveal that most practicing Neuropsychologists hold a PhD and have completed a 2-year postdoctoral research program. Similarly, CEOs of large companies typically reach that position in their 50s or later. You can explore the concept of Job Zones, which classifies occupations based on the level of preparation required. For a more precise understanding, reviewing actual job descriptions related to your child’s desired career on LinkedIn can be helpful. This way, you can better gauge the qualifications needed and ascertain whether your child is prepared to meet the demands of their chosen path.

Approaching the discussion of your child’s career choice using the toolkit I have offered above can indeed be beneficial and effective. When your child explores the different facets of their preferred career path, it demonstrates that they are taking their decision seriously and putting in effort to understand the potential outcomes and challenges.

By reducing uncertainty and gaining conviction in their decision, they can effectively communicate their goals and aspirations to you. This clarity will make it easier for you, as a parent, to understand their perspective and support their choices. It also shows that they are mature and responsible in their approach to making important life decisions.

Ultimately, knowing that you are backing their decisions will provide them with the confidence and motivation to pursue their chosen career path with enthusiasm and determination. Your support can make a significant difference in their journey towards a fulfilling and successful future.