For many, interests in an adult career are revealed in childhood. For many adults that don’t know what they want to do when they grow up, returning to childhood to re-evaluate their skills and talent can open doors of surprisingly new opportunity. For grandparents, how can you direct your young grandchildren to begin the process of developing a career? Watch and listen to them first.
Grandchildren that enjoy art may like to explore the world of graphic art and interior design. Those that spend hours writing poems, stories and receive high grades for their essays in school may be encouraged to pursue journalism or even related fields such as teaching and training. The grandchild that spends hours on a computer, takes it apart and re-designs software should also think about a degree in systems engineering. A grandchild does not have to show amazing talent in the arts or sciences but simply likes to help others. What then? The grandchild that has the passion to lead and care may be directed to a degree in business, a customer service position that will eventually lead to management. No, the grandchild that runs around with a doctor case all day long, may not chose to be a doctor, but what about a dentist, nurse even health care technician. That is the responsibility of parents to provide some sort of map to the grandchildren’s future. Ultimately, however, it will always be the choice of the grandchild whether to follow or not.
Though interests can change, talk to your grandchildren early. Ask them what kind of employment they would like to pursue. Role model the positive rewards of having a job and how responsibility does not have to be overwhelming. Remind them of their abilities. Keep buying those books and art supplies even if they seem to be taking a break from their talent. Don’t push but don’t give up. Grandchildren, like adults, do take time off from their interests.
In elementary school, if grandchildren do show a preference in play that can develop into a solid career, give them the resources to be successful and it doesn’t have to be costly. If they enjoy photography, take them on a field trip to visit a photographer and talk about the realistic conditions of the occupation. What type of education should they pursue, where and how much are they paid? What other types of jobs are available for a great photographer? Can the grandchild spend a day or two with that photographer or IT specialist to learn more about the working world of those professions. If your grandchild loves car parts, can he spend a Saturday or two with your brother who is a mechanic? Maybe he can work on Saturdays with your brother and earn a free lunch at his auto-repair shop.
If your grandchild loves trains, take that train ride but don’t just travel from one station to the next, talk to the conductor. Help your grandchild ask the rights questions about the railroad industry. Maybe if your grandchild just likes to travel in planes, trains and automobiles, working in the travel industry may be a suggestion or even a job that requires travel from one business to the next. Be creative and realistic with advice; looking beyond the obvious.
Talk to your grandchildren about what you do and how you do it. What do you enjoy about your job and what changes would you like to see. Most companies have take your children to work day and most children end up playing with the computer or copy machine. But if the grandchild is really interested in your job, take him or her seriously. Have your grandchild spend time with a trusted co-worker. Could he or she observe a meeting or training that you are involved?
In this confusing world of economic struggle and daunting education costs, it is important for grandparents to be involved early in helping grandchildren develop a plan sometimes more than one. If the grandchild truly wants to become a professional singer, what is the survival job or fallback plan to support that dream?
As children, we are told to follow our hearts, always do our best and pursue our dreams. But are hearts may be divided and our dreams scattered in many directions. Maybe as children we really don’t know if we do something well and we need to hear our parents’ constant encouragement. As grandparents, we can help ground their interests, even by teaching our grandchildren to journal career thoughts and ideas along with a timeline so they may be able to see the big picture as well as what they can successfully become.
Create a framed resume for your grandchild to hang on their bedroom wall or placed strategically on a desk. In resume format, highlight the grandchild’s name, address, phone number, etc in an attractive font. Provide a summary of your grandchild’s character traits; energetic, enthusiastic, passion for others. List accomplishments/responsibilities; volunteering to take care of the neighbors pets while on vacation. List awards; that coloring contest won at the local movie theatre. List grades; add teachers’ comments to define skills. Change the resume up as the grandchild grows or create several to identify age and interests. Have your grandchildren assist you in telling about themselves.
Parents and teachers should begin early to help children discover strong career matches. Check with your state department employment security centers for career resources that you can explore together. There are also a variety of fun tests online that your grandchild can take to find out their job personality.