Unless your kids already show an aptitude for working with wind power or healing the sick, you would do well to prep your child for career success now by helping them develop skills that will serve them no matter how their careers unfold.
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I was going to be in newspapers until the day I died. And then I wasn’t.
I was going to live my life in press boxes and newsrooms. I was going to keel over well into my 80s while on assignment, probably waiting to interview some prima-donna ballplayer in a major-league clubhouse. I would have died grumpy, which for an ancient sportswriter is the same thing as dying happy.
But the newspaper industry beat me to that happy, tragic end. Newspapers as we knew them for centuries all but died in 2007 when the Great Recession gripped the world. Everything in the industry since has been decomposition, including my 2008 layoff from the newspaper that had me covering sports for 16 years.
I thought I had chosen wisely when I picked newspapers as a career in the late 1980s. After all, it was as much a calling as an occupation. I enjoyed the work. I took pride in it. The industry seemed stable and secure, too. It had been viable in the United States since James Franklin of Boston hired his little brother, Benjamin, to work for him at the New England Courant. It was not stable or secure enough.
My experience informs my approach to helping my two elementary-age kids pursue their own professional ambitions. I want to do everything I can in the coming years to help them avoid the unexpected career derailment I suffered in my late 30s. If you worry like I do then President Obama’s recent message to White House interns might resonate: “Worry less about what you want to be, and think more about what you want to do.”
How do we help them do that? How can you prep your child for career success in the unpredictable job market of the second half of the 21st century?
We can start with the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent Projections of Occupational Employment, which use data and some kind of business school mathematical voodoo to predict what industries will be thriving and what industries will be fading into oblivion in the year 2024.
What we find there is that the healthcare field will provide many jobs in the coming decade and beyond – physicians, nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and such. No surprise there. The aging Baby Boomers and their aging Generation X children will need a lot of medical attention.
We also find that, according to the 10-year projections of the BLS, the job with the most promise for growth in America is … wind turbine service technician.
Predictions, of course, are a fool’s game when it comes to jobs and the economy. There is no way to know what careers will be “safe” or will pay well or will offer our kids a lifetime of professional satisfaction. Unless they already show an aptitude for working with wind power or healing the sick, you would do well to help them develop career-building skills that will serve them no matter how their careers unfold.
To that end, encourage them to:
- Identify the things they do best and care about the most and work to become experts in those things.
- Make friends with people who also do those things well.
- Find companies that make money doing those things and seek internships or part-time jobs with those companies; learn how they make money doing those things and think about how they can, too.
- Take a course or two (or more) in business and management, regardless of major if they attend college; learn the basics of business and how the entrepreneurial mind works.
- Never stop learning.
- Never stop making friends in their chosen field.
- Develop and maintain a flexible mindset; be aware that their skills and knowledge will evolve with experience, and their careers should evolve accordingly.
This is the advice I will give my kids in the years ahead. It’s too late for most guys my age to actually do most of these wonderful things, of course. These are the things I wish I had done when I was a teenager back in the ‘80s.
But why would I have needed to do those things? I had it all planned out. I was going to live my life in the press box and newsrooms. I was going to be in newspapers until the day I died.
And then, I wasn’t.