By Sheryl Smolkin
Selecting a career is one of the most important challenges all of us have to deal with, and it doesn’t only happen once when we graduate from high school. I went to law school and embarked on an initial career as a family lawyer. However, nine years later I moved into pension and benefits law, and as a retiree I have a new career as a journalist. My husband has degrees in electrical, biomedical and software engineering, but spent most of his career in software design.
That’s why I think Bridget Eastgaard’s blog The future you are saving for does not exist on Money After Graduation is a “must read” for you and your kids. She says, “One of the most dangerous things you can do for your finances (and your happiness) is to plan your life under the assumption that everything will remain as it is. It won’t. I think we intuitively understand this, but you don’t know what you don’t know, and that makes imagining anything different extremely challenging. But these perspectives and biases can hinder us by limiting our flexibility to adapt to an ever-changing world. ”
So if you or your child are picking college or university courses or even if you are graduating from high school or with an undergraduate degree, how do you know what skills are in demand now and will still be highly sought four or more years from now?
The truth is none of us has a crystal ball. But you can check out Canada’s Best Jobs 2016: The Top 100 for a start. I’ll bet you’d never guess that the top three jobs on the list are: mining or forestry manager; urban planner and pharmacist. And construction managers, police officers and nurse practitioners are also highly ranked.
Heidi Grant Halvorson in the Harvard Business Review writes that The key to choosing the right career is to find a career that fits well with both your skills and values. She characterizes people in two ways. Those who primarily see work and life goals as opportunities for advancement, achievement and rewards have “a promotion focus.” The rest of us are mainly prevention-focused. We see our objectives as avoiding danger, fulfilling responsibility and being someone people can count on. Halverson believes that understanding our dominant focus can help with career selection.
In How to choose a career that you’ll love, New York Times bestselling author and founder of iwillteachyoutoberich.com, Ramit Sethi says, “The smart approach is to explore ALL the careers you’re interested in, test each to see if you’d really enjoy doing them, and move on to other jobs if they’re not a good fit. It’s kind of like window shopping at a mall. A shirt or pair of jeans may catch your attention. You might even try them on, but you wouldn’t just pick any random thing off the rack and say ‘I guess I’ll wear this for the next 10 years,’” he says.
Getting the chance to try different careers and work environments on for size is one reason why co-op co-op programs including one or more paid work terms are so valuable. An interesting blog on myuniversitymoney.com explores the pros and cons of co-op programs. Author Mr. Harvey is a former co-op student and he says the job hunt seemed to be an endless cycle of applying and interviewing for jobs which was a lot of work and stress on top of his studies. However he agrees that co-op students get lots of experience and many students are offered permanent jobs.
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