The Importance of Career Conversations with Kids

career conversations
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Isn’t it funny how as a society when children reach a certain age we begin expecting them to know what they want to do with their lives or the career field they’d like to go into? 

After years of no conversation and only the tv and internet to influence them,  we expect them to just know. Then we get frustrated when they opt for sports and entertainment.

While this is the way it was for me growing up, and I am sure, many of you. This is not the best practice. We should be having ongoing career conversations with kids, especially kids of color.

Here’s Why It Is Important to have Career Conversations With Kids, Especially Kids of Color:

career future leader
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It Communicates That You Care About Their Future

It is crucial that kids know that the adults in their lives care. Yes, even about what they want to do with their lives when they grow up. Imagine wanting to be a musician, athlete, librarian, physician assistant, author, or dietician and you know that not only does your parent, teacher, or mentor care, but they will also support your dream and help you accomplish it in any way that they can. 

More than this, imagine growing up in poverty or a crime-ridden community. Knowing that someone can see a future for them is encouragement in and of itself. Knowing that you can see a bright future for them enables them to begin imagining one for themselves. 

It Will Allow You To Begin Fostering Gifts

Extracurricular activities are a huge part of many kid’s lives. Often time parents struggle with what activities to sign their child up for. Having a simple conversation to ask your child, what they are interested in currently, if they would like to pursue those interests, and taking some time together to research schools, clubs, or after school programs in your area that focus on the hobby or interest will not only make your job easier, but it will also allow your child to learn and explore their chosen interest to see if it is truly something they enjoy. 

career gymnast
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In addition to this, it will allow for gifts in a certain area to be fostered and built upon.

“ White men constitute about one-half of scientists and engineers employed in S&E occupations. In all racial and ethnic groups, more men than women work in S&E occupations. Together, Asian and underrepresented minority women comprise about 1 in 10 persons employed in S&E occupations.”

Field Experience Opportunities Made Possible 

After you have given your child a chance to explore a chosen field or hobby for a length of time and they are sure that it is something they want to pursue. Setting up field experience opportunities is the next step. Field experiences look like shadowing their dentist if they want to go into dentistry and orthodontics. It could be taking a tour of a variety of small beauty industry businesses if they want to go into the beauty industry and own their own boutique/ salon.  Or it could look like shadowing a real estate agent, practicing staging houses, and learning all about real estate law a few Saturdays out of a month. 

No matter the occupation, field experience will give kids an in-depth idea of all of the requirements of the field.

Finding a Mentor Will Be Easier

 Being advised by a professional experienced in a chosen field can provide knowledge that school does not teach or that a short shadowing session can’t cover.  

Early Start on Volunteer Hours

Volunteer hours are important for college acceptance and are also required towards the end of a degree/ certification program. For the field of education, it’s called student teaching. It is a required part of your senior year. During this time instead of class on campus( or online), you are assigned a district, school, and grade. Then, for a predetermined number of hours, you work in the field getting a true idea of what your day-to-day would look like in education.

Volunteer hours should be recorded and signed off on. Getting a head start on them can give your child a leg up hen competing for a spot in a distinguished program.

Allows for Exploration

Realistically speaking, every child will not have a desire to go to college and it is important that we communicatethat  that this is ok. It will however  be necessary that they have some type of formal training for the field or industry that they are going into. Explore the alternatives to college with your child. Identify the age for training courses, state/board exams, etc. 

Education beyond the schoolroom should occur on a regular basis. It starts in the home and should be taken out into the streets of our communities and beyond. 

In a world of side hustles and big dreams, it’s only right that as mentors, teachers, and parents we give our kids a leg up in the world and a true chance to start building generational wealth as early as they desire. 

It’s their turn.

“ Even when black students do have access to honors or advanced placement courses, they are vastly underrepresented in these courses. Black and Latino students represent 38 percent of students in schools that offer AP courses, but only 29 percent of students enrolled in at least one AP course. Black and Latino students also have less access to gifted and talented education programs than white students.”

Books and Resources:

Career Articles for Adults:

K-12 Disparity Facts and Statistics

Pursuit of Passion Project

Do Parents Know They Matter?

Alternatives to College

Labor Statistics

Career Articles for Kids:

Kids Work!

Careers At A Glance for Kids

Research Careers


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