5 Career Tips for My Daughter

I have read so much lately regarding the “Mommy Wars” which pits the Stay at Home Moms vs Working Moms. Just this week an article in New York Magazine, “The Retro Wife,” reports that women are choosing to leave the workplace to care for children.   Conversely, Sheryl Sandberg’s book, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” encourages women to advocate for themselves in their careers so they can move up to key leadership positions.  Mix in Yahoo’s relinquishment of their telecommuting programs and now work-place flexibility is added to the conversation as well. Women seemingly continue to reflect on the truism of “having it all” and the struggle of work-life balance. The topic seems as fresh today as it was 10 years ago. What is a mom to do? How do we teach and coach our daughters for their future paths? If I am conflicted by the messages I see and read, how in the world do I help my high school daughter plan her life and career path so that it makes sense for her? I want to be a good role model for my children both in motherhood and career. I want to instill ambition, morality, integrity, accomplishment, balance and faith in them. So, here is some of the dinner table advice I am passing on to her:

career street sign1. Study a skill set that, based on your passions and talents, you can earn a living as well as enjoy your life. With a skill degree versus a generic degree, you can leave and return into the work place based on your life needs. Examples of skill set degrees include accounting, nursing, graphic artist, web designer, architect, engineer, to name a few. A specific skill set versus a very generic degree such as marketing, history, or general business, will allow more flexibility in a career path as well as hopefully ease the task of getting a job right out of school.

2. A career choice is not a straight line. We used to think a career was 40 years at the same job with pension, retirement and a gold watch. But the workplace has changed and that has freed workers to change as well. Some believe you should change careers every seven years so you don’t get bored and you can stay fresh.  That’s not practical for all of us, but odds are you will change your feelings about work at least that often. Be open to opportunities and adapt to change.  Your first job out of school will not be your last.

3. Be your own thinker and advocate.  My daughter is playing on a club volleyball team and with 12 teenage girls and two female coaches, well,  that is a lot of  hormones and personalities! What better place to learn life lessons such as self advocacy skills, positive confrontational skills as well as interpersonal skills. I have explained to her that in life, there will always be the challenging teacher or boss, th back stabbing student, or manipulative co-worker who steals your project. The opportunity is in how you handle the situation and stand up for yourself.

4.  Read, read, read. Read for enjoyment, personal growth, news, and knowledge. Reading will help you learn, see what your competition is doing, know what your customers want, discover what opportunities may exist for you, and what are the developing tends are. Reading journals, blogs, books, newspapers and links are a valuable source of daily news, research, entertainment and growth. Reading for pleasure will instill inspiration, imagination, and empathy. Read, read, read…

5. Breathe – without guilt. Taking a few minutes out of your day will provide respite and perspective.  Sometimes the best place to find inspiration, perspective, enthusiasm or direction in your life is outside of the hectic pace.  A new Stanford University study says that contemplating a breathtaking image can make it seem like you have more time on your hands. Life may seem a little longer, slower and fuller by taking a few minutes to admire the view.

These are just starting points of converstation for us. What other advice would you offer to your daughter?

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  1. successnotsabotage on March 20, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    LOVE this blog! As a mom of 4, 3 of which I homeschooled for 12 years and then launched my own business…how accurate this is. Agree completely. You can’t do everything at once, but we can model how to carry leadership in small increments in multiple area’s. Loved how you pointed out staying in your identity zone, there’s the key. Stay in that and you work out of an overflow and include your family as you grow. Awesome article!

    • natalie on March 21, 2013 at 4:13 pm

      I am so glad you enjoyed the article and perspective. I totally agree to model in a very human way for our children. That makes them understand we will not be perfect but continually strive for the best we can be at that moment in time. Thanks for the comment!!

  2. Ali on March 21, 2013 at 8:03 am

    Natalie, what a great perspective to write from! As an individual with a skill set, I have two thoughts on point number one.

    First, studying a skill rather than a broad topic degree will certainly give you a more acute direction out of school, but it’s also difficult to make a big life decision such as what skill you want to focus on at 18 years old. I had no idea I would end up in graphic design at 18, but my degree in Marketing paved the way. That said, studying a broad subject matter and focusing (whether as a second major or a minor) on a skill would really create a marketable resumé upon graduation. That way, should their chosen skill set fail for one reason or another, there is always a back up, borader option in their back pocket.

    Second, you touched on this in number three, but with any chosen skill set it’s important to know while your in school that the learning doesn’t stop there. Heck, it hardly begins there! Once you get into your chosen field, you then must never stop learning. Stay connected with your school to take continuing ed classes, join peer groups with others who possess your same skills, and READ READ READ! 🙂

    • natalie on March 21, 2013 at 4:19 pm

      Thanks Ali for the additional thoughts and comments. Totally agree with the point of at age 18 it is hard to make huge decisions for the rest of your life – sometimes still hard in your 40’s 🙂 I like your additional point of a plan B in case plan A is not the right path for you. Ears been burning – during some of these discussions, I actually have offered you up as a great example to my daughter of the way you have made your career work for you!

      • Ali on April 12, 2013 at 8:54 pm

        Natalie — I just read your comment! Feel free to have your daughter ask me any questions she may have about choosing a major, etc! So many of my career choices were made during my internship at Mt. Bethel. Learned a lot about myself and about the industry I wanted to pursue. I definitely suggest she looks for internships and part-time jobs while she’s in school!

  3. Mickey on March 21, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    I’m all about item #4 — read! I went to school for Computer Science, which really has very little to do with my daily work. However, reading dozens of books and thousands of blog posts every year helps to keep the education growing and evolving over time.

  4. Courtney Abrams on March 25, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    Great post. I really like all the suggestions especially about reading. I would also say to support entrepreneurship because even though a recent grad might take a conventional job, if they are supported and encouraged to build their own business that might take shape as self reliance and confidence grows

  5. ClickHOST.com (@clickhost) on March 25, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Hope it’s ok for Dad’s to jump in too. Well, Mickey started it….

    I agree with Mickey. Read! My daughter loves to read and we encourage her to continue this life skill.

    I would add money management. Sons and daughters — a great place to start is Dave Ramsey.

  6. natalie on March 26, 2013 at 6:17 am

    Thanks both Courtney and Carel – yes, Dad’s can jump in! Great additions regarding entrepreneurship and money management. The key is the help our kids, the next generation, find the best path for them for individual success and society as a whole. Great discussions everyone! Thanks for all the comments and feedback!!

  7. Tim Villegas (@think_inclusive) on April 7, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    I am with Mickey… Reading has been the key for me… I tell my daughter that if you learn how to read you can learn about ANYTHING… and learn to DO ANYTHING. Great article!

  8. […] Join a book club – Read the latest bestseller, an old favorite or classic. Meet other avid readers. Reading is power, knowledge and escape. For more on how we feel about reading (see #4)! […]

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    […] Take an online course in graphic design or desktop publishing.  I am still believer in learning a specific skill that has a barrier to entry to make yourself standout and stay […]

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