Millennial Career Choices: Where do passion, purpose and profit meet?

In the diagram below, “X” marks the spot! But very few of today’s millennial generation children get good advice in terms of post school educational curricular activities to find this holy grail of a perfect career choice. A career that is all of financially rewarding, somewhat enjoyable and something that you are reasonably proficient at.

Much has been written about the Millennial generation. About how they have a different set of ideals and view the world from a completely different perspective to their parents and grandparents. This Millennial generation is highly unlikely to be rescued from the beaches of Dunkirk, or be called upon to fight in Nam, whether that be Vietnam or Namibia. They are a generation that has grown up in the connected world and have a wealth of information at their tips of their thumbs. But many parents of these Millennials are absolutely petrified that “little Johnny” or “little Mary” will still be living at home in their 30’s or 40’s and still be financially dependent on the folks, because they are still “finding themselves”!

How do parents go about preparing their children for the harsh realities of life, and the world that they are already a part of, and need to make a success of? With the definition of success being a highly subjective matter. An added complication is the reality that many of yesterday’s “A” list careers may not be a lucrative and rewarding options for the future. Also remember to factor in a whole new world of careers around artificial intelligence, big data, cloud storage, robotics and biotechnology that are currently in their embryonic stages. The potential career opportunities of which most parents know next to nothing.

Parents, don’t panic, all is not lost in this new world of work. PS – note the emphasis on the word “work”. The future will not mirror the past in that one went to university, graduated, obtained a good job with a listed corporate and worked there for 40 or so years, before retiring into a genteel lifestyle till the end or your days. In the future there will many stages in ones working life, that may often entail complete career changes, picking up new skills along the way. Geographical, technical and knowledge mobility will be key to success, and enjoyment. The ability to re-invent oneself to a rapidly changing economic market will be critical for survival, let alone prosperity. Flexibility and adaptability are skill sets that will be well rewarded.

But parents of today’s teenagers do need to give them a reality check or two. Adequately preparing children for life outside the nest, has always been difficult. But somehow or other parents of previous generations knew how to use “tough love” more effectively. Here are some pointers and suggestions:

  • Let teenagers become accustomed to the monthly stress of managing the family budget. Make them aware of the true cost of living and running a home.
  • Give them an allowance and force them to make financial choices re entertainment and spoils. Don’t bail them out when the money runs out.
  • On the flipside, expose them to the benefits of saving and investing. Run a phantom share invest game with suitable incentives for winners and chores for the losers.
  • Seek to expose your children to the practicalities of a wide range of careers.
  • Encourage them to get a “holiday/vac job” or two in the holidays. To understand what it’s like to work and earn, not just receive.
  • Get them to expand their career choices beyond the obvious options.
  • If your child wants to do something fanciful, like operating a “paint ball” arena. Assist them in doing a business plan and budget for the potential business.
  • The plain hard life truth around low paying career choices should be explained in monetary reality. It’s all very well wanting to save the world, but there is a personal cost and sacrifice.

But most of all, be hands on parents. There to guide, advise, love and support. It’s brave new world into which they are journeying and the bigger the support team, the better chance they will have to make a success of it. Good luck and enjoy the journey, for both yourself and your teenagers.

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