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Preparing your child for a future career

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Every parent wants their child to be successful in life: to succeed academically, socially, spiritually, in every way possible. Included in that list is the desire of every parent to be rest assured of their child’s ability to get a good job and be financially stable for the rest of their life. Some might dismiss career talk as materialistic, even crass, but a good job is the gateway to good health, secure housing, good food -- everything necessary for a happy, meaningful life. So how can youngster and parent prepare early for the many career choices to come?

1. It’s never too soon to pick up skills

There are all kinds of practical skills that are useful in the job market, yet are neglected while in school. For instance a strong familiarity with a word processor like Microsoft Word or Google Docs will be a useful line on a resume. Another extremely helpful ability, but one that often gets overlooked, is a mastery of spreadsheets. Being able to handle loads of data and process them into pivot tables would come in handy in a great many professions. There are also manual skills, such as carpentry, welding, car repair. If you put your mind to it, you’ll probably come up with a long list of skills and abilities that your youngster could get a head start on, an effort that could pay major dividends later on.

2. Try to get a deeper understanding of interesting careers

There’s a strong tendency, when researching jobs and careers, to start and end with web searches. But that approach drastically limits learning opportunities, and, as a result, limits potential career opportunities. Don’t just surf the web, get your kid out there in the real world -- visit workplaces, talk to people living and working in various fields. Find out what it’s really like to work in the fields in which your youngster is interested. You might be surprised by how much can be learned with direct experience.

3. Know your requirements

The earlier you understand what steps are required to reach your child’s career goals, the better off you’ll be. Courses needed to get into needed college majors, college credits needed to get into postgraduate programs, further programs and work experience required for professional certification -- there are a lot of steps that will have to be taken on the long journey to working life. A bit of strategic thinking early on will make sure it’s a productive journey.

4. Build a portfolio

It’s easy to buy a web address and build a basic website. Such as A website can be an ongoing project maintained and updated throughout the years spent in high school and college, allowing the youngster to develop all the skills related to web design and upkeep.There are also tons of websites designed to distribute content created by individuals, so photography, music, writing, art and more can be shown to a global audience. Now it may not bring in money to your child (though it just might!), but it will create an identity and a brand that can be controlled and shaped. Why is this important? Because everyone should expect to get Googled when applying for jobs, post-secondary education, and more. A positive online identity will be a huge help.

4. Relax!

Career exploration can be an immensely stressful process. The younger your child is, the more it can feel like career discussions are threatening to lock them into something long before they’re ready. It can turn a useful process into a counterproductive exercise in stress and anxiety. Therefore, don’t try to lock in anything too early. Keep an eye out for special skills or potential interests. Assure your child that the point isn’t to decide what to do with their life, but to ensure the best possible tools are available if and when that decision is made.

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