My daughter, a high school junior, wants to be a teacher. That doesn't sit well with my husband, who worries about the state of education and the job outlook. He and I regularly debate whether we should encourage her to pursue this interest, or strongly steer her in another direction.
Today, coaching our kids about career paths is complicated. Many of my who witnessed an overhaul of the media world are highly opposed to their kids becoming journalists. Where parents of the past pushed their kids to follow in their footsteps, we want the generation we raise to go where the jobs will be.
American workers' experiences during the recession and the uncertainty of the global economy have made many of us more opinionated about what careers our kids pursue. We have witnessed job loss and burnout. We have seen highly educated professionals lose their jobs. And worse, we have seen college graduating classes face an overwhelmingly tough employment arena.
While it's that a college degree usually guarantees better wages, the mantra of parents has become: Can you land a decent-paying job with that degree?
As parents, we're just beginning to understand that the next generation will have to navigate the workplace differently. Experts forecast that workers starting out now will switch careers an average of more than three times during their lives. Should parents, then, worry less about guiding our children into careers and focus more on helping them identify skills to succeed in the new economy?
Whether my daughter becomes a teacher or an engineer, her success likely will come from a mastery of technology, languages and communications skills. Most importantly, she will need the mind-set to be a problem solver, innovator, risk taker and self marketer. She will need to be prepared to continuously acquire new skills, a lesson my generation has learned the hard way.
"We are fooling ourselves to think young people will get a degree and spend the next 20 years at a single company or in a single industry," said John Swartz, regional director of career services at Everest College, which has campuses in 30 cities. "They will have to be more focused on dealing with change. In this new world order, they have to follow the jobs in demand; acquire the right skills or at least transferable skills; and know that the skill set needed might change."
I also want my daughter to create the kind of work-life balance that allows her to earn a good paycheck without making sacrifices. I guess we both should be prepared for a career exploration process that may be rife with twists and turns -- and opportunities.
Cindy Krischer Goodman, CEO of BalanceGal LLC, can be reached at email@example.com.