Q: My daughter is entering college in the fall. She is confused and unsure of what type of career to pursue. We want her to be able to land a job after graduation. We are fine with her taking some enjoyable classes but we look at college as a way for her to build skills and hopefully find a better and more stable job than if she had never graduated college. What career paths will guarantee her a job after she graduates? This is a big investment!
A: How wonderful that your daughter is beginning a new chapter of her life in the fall! Most high school graduates are unsure of a definite career path. That’s ok. Many of us did not figure out our career paths until college or even later.
Your daughter will learn a bit more about her likes and dislikes as well as her strengths and weaknesses as she progresses through her college coursework. She may realize that she enjoys statistics but creative writing is a struggle. Or she may learn that she works better independently than on a team or in a small group. Internships, summer jobs and part-time jobs while she is a student can also help her better understand some of her work-related skills and preferences. There are many learnings that occur outside the classroom at college too. She will learn more about time management, how to negotiate conflict and how to effectively advocate for herself.
All of these learnings will help her better understand what career choices may be best suited for her. There are no guarantees in the job market. The employment – employee relationship has changed dramatically over the past several decades. Several decades ago, employees often remained with an employer for many years, even sometimes their entire career. Now, it is unusual for an employee to work for one single company for their entire career. Consulting, temping, contracting, entrepreneurial ventures and freelancing are more often part of a professional career today.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has some very helpful information online that may be a worthwhile read for you and your daughter. Click on http://www.bls.gov/oco/pdf/oco2003.pdf and you will find information on projected population changes as well as an overview of the expected changes in the employment world. There are certainly some industries that are expected to grow (e.g., healthcare) while other industries are expected to struggle (e.g., agriculture). This information is helpful so that your daughter can better understand the projected realities of the job market when she graduates.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
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