Helping Our Kids Find a Career

A recent article I read about a 13-year-old boy who wants to be a chef when he grows up included a comment that jumped out at me:

This young cook plans to attend culinary school and one day would like to teach cooking classes or own his own restaurant.

“I think I could be a chef anywhere. I like working with my hands and always being in the game and not sitting in an office all day,” Steven said. “So I think that may be a job for me.”

He’s a smart kid. He knows he wouldn’t be happy sitting at a desk all day. I wish I’d been that smart at his age (or even when I was a little older). Once I graduated from college, I worked at a couple of “desk jobs” and found that I was miserable. Even though I was trained (via many years of formal education) to sit at a desk all day, that didn’t make me like it.

Most homeschooled kids don’t have to sit at a desk all day. My kids didn’t. They had a few hours of daily bookwork, but once that was finished, they had freedom to pursue their own interests. And now that they’re all grown, I can see by the jobs they choose that they, too, clearly have no interest in sitting at a desk all day. My eldest has two online businesses supplemented by a part-time job working in a warehouse store. My son is a manager for a publishing company, which requires a lot of business travel. And my younger daughter works for the police department writing parking tickets while she works her way up to becoming a full-time officer (she was one of the few women to pass the physical agility test recently, woohoo!)

Now that it’s so hard for young people to find good jobs, it’s more important than ever that they pursue the kinds of careers that are a good fit for their personalities and experience, because once they get a job, they’ll need to hang on to it. Homeschooled kids who are accustomed to freedom may have a difficult time sitting at a desk, computer or phone all day. They might be better suited to active work or even outdoors work.

As parents, we can’t force them to come up with a career plan, nor can we make them do what we want (my dad still thinks I should have majored in accounting, but I’m so glad I didn’t!) But we can encourage them to pursue their interests, provide the tools they need to pick up a skill they want, and share helpful information whenever we happen to find it. By supporting them in this way, they’ll have a better shot at finding the work that’s right for them (even if they want to do something that requires sitting at a desk all day!)

3 thoughts on “Helping Our Kids Find a Career

  1. What a really great post – thanks for sharing! It sounds like each of your children were encouraged to find what worked for them. I think it’s the culture of our society to encourage kids to go to college as if there is no other path to a successful, fulfilling career. Most public schools are set up to push college prep, and it seems like funding and programming for trade skills is decreasing every years. I hope that when my children are old enough to start making choices, I encourage them to think outside of the box that society has created. If my kid wants to be HVAC certified or a plumber, I’m going to support him with all my heart.

  2. Your kids are fortunate, Cecilia! Those are career areas that are actually booming, unlike so many others. It’s very hard to offshore your plumber 🙂

  3. Pingback: Weekly Update: July 11, 2012 | Thriving in the 21st Century

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