Monday, March 31, 2014

Mom, What Should I be When I Grow Up?

We have lots of conversations with our kids about schools and college, summer jobs and first jobs. The details and struggles to make all these decisions can block out the big question of what is it that your son or daughter wants to do once they have that degree?
With our kids the questions were:
What am I good at?
What do I like doing?
What kind of jobs exist that match what I'm good at and what I enjoy?
These questions can occur in high school, college, at graduation and 5 years out of college. The answers shift and change but often the confusion remains. Unfortunately, many colleges and universities are weak in the area of career counseling and placement. It is one of those areas that doesn't pop to the front of the list when looking at schools, but it should.
One thing to explore with your kids, their high school counselors and college career counselors is the value of taking some skill and interest assessments. There are a wide range of options tailored for different ages and needs. Here is a sample of what is available. Some of these have online versions as well.
Strong Interest Inventory: This is one of the oldest and most widely used assessments for helping explore career options.
Myers Briggs: The standard for understanding personality and work style.
Johnson O'Connor: Aptitude and ability assessments, very well regarded.
Birkman: Personality assessment. 
These are but some of the options to consider. Working with a trained professional is the best way to determine if any of these or other assessments will be helpful and appropriate. The important thing is to know they are available and to have conversations with your son and daughter about what they need.
For many young people having an understanding of their strengths can be surprisingly valuable. Most of us in our late teens and early twenties tend to think we are either good at everything or nothing. Adding some data to the conversation can be a good idea.

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