We all remember that boring, uncomfortable question from our childhood: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  At first it was easy.  You said “Fireman” or “Mommy” or “Astronaut” and your parents and/or their friends and other family members, would leave you alone.  That general scheme worked until you got to the end of high school, when your guidance counselor looked you in the eye and said: “Really?”  It was time for college, Junior or 4-year, and “what do you want to be?” turned into a career, existence and survival question.  And it wasn’t someone else asking you about it – you were asking yourself: “What the ____ am I going to do with my life?”

So what do you do when your child comes back at you, maybe even after 4-years of college and asks: “What am I going to be when I grow up?”  There are answers but some of them might not be as attractive and exciting as “Fireman” or “Mommy” or “Astronaut”.

These days, if your child, say, liked Math and went on to an engineering degree, you don’t have too much to worry about, unless, of course, your child learned after 4-years of college that s/he absolutely hates engineering.  But if your daughter majored in Art History, or Film Studies, or Music – and absolutely loves her field of study – you might also have a problem because jobs in those fields are pretty scarce and most of them don’t pay very much.  So what’s the best advice a parent can give a child who’s trying to enter the modern day workforce without a clear idea of what s/he really wants to do?

FIRST OF ALL, WHAT ARE YOU GOOD AT?

Everyone’s good at something.  And it’s usually something that the particular individual really loves to do.  This can be the key to discovering your child’s vocation.  Okay, video games don’t count, unless your son knows a computer language, like say, Clojure, and is proficient at coding in that language.  But there are lots of jobs in the new ‘gig economy’, from driving Uber to collecting and recharging Bird scooters, that could possibly lead to management positions in those companies, if your kid can hang in there at subsistence rates long enough.  What’s important is to encourage your child to have an open mind so that if an improvement opportunity presents itself at a gig job, s/he has the proclivity to take advantage of it.

Some children liked taking things apart, and even putting them back together when they were young.  This sort of person likes working with his or her hands and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.  So why not take advantage of this desire and explore jobs in the construction field.  Your children might be perfectly comfortable as carpenters or plumbers or even professional painters.  Training for professions like these are available at many junior colleges along with auto repair, restaurant cooking and furniture renovation.  The options for training in physical occupations are almost limitless.

WHAT TO DO WITH AN ACTIVE IMAGINATION

Maybe your child had a very active imagination growing up and was perfectly content to revel in that world rather than work with his or her hands, or study and do homework.  As long as you and your child both keep your imaginations functioning the way they should, the possibilities in career choices for people with active imaginations are practically limitless.  The imagination is where new business concepts are born but you have to be able to hear the creative muse when she speaks inside your head and that requires a positive attitude more than anything else.

It’s easy to ignore the creative arts when your advising your child about career choices because the obvious jobs, like writing or acting or dancing, seem so distant and remote.  How does one get into the position to audition for such positions?  It all seems so complicated.  But there are much simpler spots available that depend upon a vigorous imagination and don’t require nearly as much complex networking and privilege as the performing arts.  For example, an active imagination is an essential toolset for a baker, these days, so that the bread and pastries displayed are eye catching and unique.  Imagination is also important in today’s active sales environment where social networks have so greatly increased spread and outreach.  Imaginative Facebook posts can lead to more friending and, consequently, a broader audience, which is a great platform for selling practically anything.  Don’t let traditional notions of salesmanship hold you or your child back; she or he could be the next Mastin Kipp, if you just believe.

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