Careers Advice? Why don’t you just get a job.

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So I was checking the news today when I came across the headline “Warning on lack of careers advice”. Basically, a report by the National Careers Council has found that the access to and the quality of careers advice for young people depends on where you live, they think it’s unfair and it “needs to be urgently improved.”

Now, I’ll start by stating that I have some personal experience to share and an opinion about the matter, but I am by no means an expert. If I was I’m sure I’d be off making money, not blogging.

So let’s talk careers advice.

Back when I was in year 9 (that makes me like 13), I had a meeting with an advisor to discuss my future and what I wanted to do with it. That sounds alright, doesn’t it? Except this meeting to discuss my future was also attended by five fellow students all wanting to discuss their hopes and dreams – and it should be noted not even other students I had things in common with other than where our surnames were on a register.

Suddenly that hour meeting is down to 10 minutes per pupil if the time is split fairly. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. We got to the second person in the group and then time was up. There were no follow up sessions or any advice on where we could find out anything more, we were just sent back to lessons after wasting our time. That was careers advice.

We were also made to do those quizzes that tell you what area of work you would be good at in one of our morning registration sessions. That’s 20 minutes to answer yes/no questions on a computer first thing in the morning. As you can imagine, this was again not very helpful. My results told me I should become a “pet behavioural therapist”.  First of all, what even is a pet behavioural therapist? And, secondly, one very important question that they missed out on this quiz was “are you allergic to animals?”.

Now here’s the part filled with my opinion.

This all happened when I was 13 – a time when I was obsessing over pop stars and caring way too much what other people thought of me. I had no idea what I wanted to do when I was 30, and I’d like to point out that I still don’t.

I do think that it’s important to provide young people with all the right information about the possibilities, but it should be done in a way without pressure. You’re scaring them away from dreaming big because you’re telling that they won’t make it. Yes, it’s good to be realistic about a career, but not so much that it sacrifices someone’s passion!

And while we’re on the subject, I think it’s crucial to point out that things have changed from when the people providing careers advice were young. We live in an economy that means that jobs aren’t always available for everyone and people don’t have a job for life anymore.

Schools are telling kids that they need to go to university to get a degree to get their dream job, but they don’t mention that it’s okay to take a job to pay the bills. They tell you that you can be whatever you want to be, but in the same breathe to aim higher than “less academic” jobs. When did become so unacceptable to follow on in the family business or to train to be butcher?

I loved my school, I really did, but now that I’m out in the “real world” I feel lied to and cheated. I was always taught that if you work hard you can be whatever you want to be, but that isn’t strictly true. Sometimes it takes a lot more than just working hard, it’s about who you know, being in the right place at the right time and having a heck of a lot of luck.

To any young people reading this, I do encourage you to dream big and work hard, but remember that things change –situations, people, dreams- and that’s okay. Life isn’t just about your dream career, it’s making the most of what you’ve got, finding great people to share it with and doing whatever makes you happy.

Wow, this turned into quite the rant/ramble, congratulations on making it to the end. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and what your experiences are.

It’s time to make a change, and that starts with a discussion.

Finally, right down at the end, here is the link to the article that started all of this off.

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