Editor’s Note: This article was written by Unbound alumnus Jonathan Dagerath. If you are an Unbound student or alumnus who is interested in writing a guest post for the Unbound blog, please reach out to [email protected].
Almost everyone wishes they could have their “dream job.”
Finding a job is common, finding a job you enjoy is really hard. As a parent, you want the best for your child. Who wouldn’t love for their child to spend their entire working life doing work they enjoy? But it’s much easier said than done. The three steps outlined here can help you get your student started on the journey.
1. Lower the pressure
In a world where it seems like everyone is talking about having a dream job, remind your student that finding a dream job takes time.
I want to encourage you, as a parent, to play an active part in bringing freedom to your student’s job search. There is nothing more pressuring for a student than the thinking, “I need to have my dream job by age 25 or I’ve missed the boat.”
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Believe me, your student is probably already concerned with how to find their dream job. So, instead of adding to that pressure they feel internally play an active role in helping your student identify the kind of work they would enjoy doing.
When your student is just starting in the workforce, they don’t need to decide on a permanent career that they will have for the rest of their life. You can help them by having conversations that center around the kind of work they enjoy doing. What are the things that matter to them in the world? What are things they believe in, problems they want to fix, or people they want to serve?
The Navigate course is a great resource to consider in helping your student get grounded in those kinds of questions. It can also help spark some fantastic conversations between you and your student. I can almost guarantee that those conversations will be of help to your student and you!
2. Encourage them to explore
If there is something they are interested in, encourage them to research and explore.
Allow them to explore the things they have a natural curiosity for! This process should be fun and enjoyable, not burdensome or worrisome.
Help them talk to people that are doing what your student wants to do and keep your eyes peeled for opportunities to intern and shadow. While it can feel comfortable and safe to research behind a computer screen, short of actually doing the work, there is nothing that beats meeting with people who are doing what you want to do and seeing what their normal day looks like.
Now, some students will want to work short-term jobs that have limited futures (like serving at an animal shelter because they love dogs). But particularly early in life, you want them to explore as many options as possible and determine for themselves what is best for them. Making a mistake now costs very little and they can gain a great deal of perspective from it.
3. Help them evaluate their experience
John Maxwell says, “Evaluated experience is the best teacher.” While experience may be a good teacher, it is only when it is evaluated that you can learn the most from it.
So, let’s say your student works at the animal shelter for the summer and decides to not continue working there. Instead of letting that experience just sit there, have a conversation with your student with these questions:
- What prompted them to want to work there in the first place?
- What did they enjoy about the work? What didn’t they enjoy about the work? Did they enjoy the work but not the environment?
- What do they want to take away from the experience?
- What did they learn about themselves while working there?
These are all questions that will help your students pivot well into work they enjoy even more. Remember getting to a dream job is not about one giant leap. It’s about several small steps over time.
Help your student evaluate their experience so they can have an even better experience next time. Also, don’t get frustrated if they have a bad experience. I have personally learned more from bad and frustrating experiences than good and positive experiences. What matters most is making sure they evaluate the experience and know what decision to make next time.
I have benefited greatly from my parents’ encouragement and guidance. I’m sure that it was difficult for them and it broke their hearts to see me in jobs I didn’t enjoy. Will there be arguments and hard times? Probably. But if you stick to these points of lowering the pressure you put on your student, encouraging them to explore opportunities, and helping them evaluate their experience, you’ll find that the whole process is exciting for everyone.