Career Night

Posted by Richard Moran.

Career Nights – Blast from the Past

Career nights are still held at high schools.  I thought they would be virtual or on YouTube by now but they are not. In fact, except for the invitation to attend which probably comes via email instead of a good smelling mimeographed flyer, the protocol of career night hasn’t changed too much since I was in high school and that is not a good thing.  It is like going back in time to one of those parts of high school that you would like to forget.  Like the day you have to climb the ropes in gym or group projects.

As a witness to a recent Career Night with one of my children the way back machine was humming as hundreds of students and their parents passed through the cafeteria where tables were set up and smiling adults, some in the uniform of his or her trade sat behind each table to answer questions.  Everyone involved is serious and committed to helping the students learn more so they can eventually make the right career decision.  For those students who have an inkling of where their work interests might take them, there are break-out sessions in classrooms where more detailed information is distributed and stories are told.

The Career Night is a high school ritual, a rite of passage that all must endure that will someday be replaced or abandoned.  In the meantime, there is some solace in a day of constant tweeting that some things haven’t changed.  Based on a sample of one, here are those elements that ever enduring about high school career nights:

 

  • The students are not interested.  Sure they show up because Mom or Dad or both suggest it would be a good thing to attend, but the student is more interested in the homework that isn’t done and due tomorrow.  When it comes time for questions in the break out sessions, the most they can muster is “Do you make a lot of money?”
  • The speakers are either self-important, secretly wish they had opted for a more challenging and lucrative career, or wish they were still in high school.  Most are prepared but the audience is a tough one.  It is not an easy role to try to convince a sixteen year old that the life of an actuary is wildly exciting.
  • The information is still awful.  Instead of a flyer that declares, “So You Want to Be a Brain Surgeon!” the new info declares “Careers in Brain Surgery for the 21st Century!”  In a list of Hot Professions for 2009, the list included:
    • Auditor
    • Health Care Technician
    • Networking/Systems Administrator
    • Nurse
    • Software Designer
    • Counselor

Without checking, I would bet that is the same list given out to the Classes of 2000, 1990, 1980, and 1970.  And I know kids have changed but I would guess the prospect of any of these careers hold as much interest to the high school student today as they did to earlier classes.  A cynic would say those are still the hot careers because not a lot of people want to do them.  Supply and demand.

In spite of the current economy, I don’t know if there has ever been a more exciting time in career choices. Everything is changing in wild ways.  What is happening in technology, finance, energy, healthcare and even the government arena are creating huge changes and huge opportunities.For all of you auditors and health care technicians and others out there, no offense and I hope you enjoy your work.  For all you undecideds out there, find something that makes your heart go pitter patter.

 

This and That

Posted by Richard Moran.

Ideas for blogs about the workplace and careers don’t usually pop out in surf shops.
Surf shops for me are the place where I check out the banged up old boards and wish I was younger whilst the rest of the family checks out the latest fashions for people that hang around water.  Surf shops at one time reeked of fiberglass fumes, now they are more likely to send off bamboo vapors from yoga mats.  But this week, I enjoyed a most revealing, unusual and gnarly chat about careers with a dude who happens to work in a surf shop.

Before the question, “Can I help you?” could even be asked, the surf shop dude looked at me and asked, “What do you do?”  It is never an easy question to answer (just ask my mother), but when asked by a young guy with a long dot under his lower lip and borderline dreadlocks, I wasn’t sure if he really wanted to know or not, so I chose to take the easy way out.

“Oh, a little bit of this and that.” I said, not dismissively, but more like, it’s too hard to explain what a career of venture capitalist, writer, consultant, wine maker would add up to.

“That’s cool,” he smiled, “I’m doing this before I do that.”

“Sometimes this is better than that, you know, so don’t be in a hurry,” I counseled.

“I know, but sometimes if you do this too long, that never happens.  That probably pays the bills better but since I don’t know what that is, this is cool,” he said.

“Given the economy, you are lucky to have this,” I countered.

“Yeah, that for me is going to be really expensive and not sure if it will have a payoff, so this is good enough,” he postured.

“Lots of times this turns into that and you don’t even know this is it.  When this happens you usually wonder about that,” I finished.

“Well, I know when I do that, I can’t do this and this is what I love.  Do you ever wish you were still doing this instead of that?” he asked.

Given that I was talking to a twenty year old in a surf shop on the beach, it was hard to respond any way other than, “This and that can both be pretty good.  Different times require looking at a lot of this until you find that.”