ON THE JOB

Kate dis­cov­ers ca­reers are a work in progress

Woman’s Day (NZ) - - Healthy living -

It’s in­ter­est­ing how much your views change over time, how much kids teach you and how much ex­pe­ri­ence can chisel away at your pre­con­ceived ideas. Be­fore I had kids, I imag­ined it would just in­volve pro­duc­ing minia­ture ver­sions of mine and my sib­lings’ child­hood.

They’d go to kindy and then school, then to univer­sity, then go on an OE with their best mate, then come home, get a job, a house and a part­ner, and set­tle down. Easy. But best-laid plans and all that.

My el­dest son was the first to chal­lenge those ideals for me. He hated school, couldn’t wait to leave and had no de­sire to go to univer­sity. It be­wil­dered me as to what he would or could do if he didn’t take that par­tic­u­lar path.

“Don’t sweat it, Mum,” he’d say, trig­ger­ing me into a full-blown sweaty mess of anx­i­ety. I was sur­prised he fin­ished his fi­nal year of school as ev­ery day was a bat­tle, but he did it.

“Now what?” I asked him, try­ing not to sound pan­icky.

“Chill, Mum,” he’d re­ply, leav­ing me any­thing but chill.

Even­tu­ally, he de­cided on a gap year, which to my mind was code for “do noth­ing”. But he got two jobs, found new mates and seemed to be hav­ing a ball. At last he stum­bled into some­thing he loved and is away and laugh­ing, which is so of­ten the case these days.

Kids don’t nec­es­sar­ily know what they want to do at 16 or 17. It’s a big, bad world out there, where com­pe­ti­tion is fierce. If you have no set agenda or di­rec­tion and your in­ter­nal GPS isn’t pro­grammed to­wards a sin­gle ca­reer path, then it’s tough.

Re­cent stud­ies showed up to two-thirds of uni stu­dents are not com­plet­ing their de­grees in the three-year time frame. Many quit half­way through, some chuck it in the first year, oth­ers take a longer, dif­fer­ent route along the way and do it over sev­eral years.

We had an elec­tri­cian over the other day. He was 19. I asked him if he was en­joy­ing it. He said he was lov­ing it – that he’d started uni, thought that was what he should do, but got there and found out it wasn’t for him. He chucked it in for a trade and hasn’t looked back.

An­other re­cent study showed that when it came to money, tradies over time earn more than uni grad­u­ates.

Kids should be free to fol­low their pas­sions and find the paths that suit them. We are quick to box them up and put ex­pec­ta­tions on them, but how much of that is a re­flec­tion of what we want, what we did, or what we think they should do? Be­sides, we are rais­ing a dif­fer­ent breed – a newer gen­er­a­tion.

Our chil­dren will be part of the gig econ­omy – they may never own houses, they may never clock-in nine to five or as­pire to be part of a big cor­po­rate. And ac­tu­ally, there’s noth­ing wrong with any of that. I should have taken my son’s ad­vice ear­lier and not sweated it.

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