Where will life lead me?
The world offers our young adults so many opportunities to study and work but yet I meet so many young people who have not thought about or had a discussion about their future. Why are we not talking to our kids regularly about what the future might hold for them? How do we support our youth on identifying their skills, strengths and interests early? And how do we show them the flexibility that comes when choosing a career?
If someone had told me when I was 17 and getting ready to leave school, that I was going to get an IT degree, have a long career in Banking and Finance and then study for five years to become a coach and counsellor, I would have given them one of my very blank looks. I certainly did not have that blueprint in my plans. What they could have told me was that I had great relationship skills that would be transferable across many industries, I was a dedicated student and therefore was probably going to be the same in my work, I loved being around people and therefore large teams would be a place I would flourish and I was a good all round leader, demonstrated in my team sports and prefect roles, so when the time came, I would be a great leader in my place of work.
Instead, I was presented by the school career counsellor with a number of limited professional pathways that didn’t seem to fit with who I was. In my final year of school, my study suffered through over commitment to other things and my marks were not going to get me into the university degree I wanted. So I took an IT degree and mixed in some commerce subjects. As it turns out, being IT qualified, with a commerce background in the 2000’s, and even now, is most valuable as an employee in many different businesses. It is incredible how each person’s pathway can be supported when we focus on their strengths, current opportunities and tangible goals.
It can be excruciating watching 16 and 17 year old young adults struggle with the structure, authority, ambition and the competitiveness of school. As a step mum, I know by having regular conversations with your children or getting them a coach, the challenges our children face can be unpacked, managed and supported. Conversations might include exploring the right school, researching university options, reaching for a tutor, leaving school and exploring a trade or studying at TAFE.
There are so many wonderful ways to capture the skills of a person and the world needs all sorts of people to contribute in many different ways. Maybe we should be more mindful of the difficult transition from school for young adults and take time to explore our children’s unique skills and contributions they bring to the world. Not everyone knows who they want to be or what they are good at the start but with some assistance we can create a pathway filled with learning, exploration and success.
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