What could be more important than setting our youth up for success in life?  I would argue that “career strategy” is just as important for our youth as it is for us who are working professionals. Making a transition from high school to the next phase of a young person’s learning journey can be a big step and one that influences the rest of our life.  The people we meet, the content we learn, and the experiences we live.  But how much “career strategy” is really discussed at this early phase in life?  I have a hypothesis that many of the principles of the Career Strategy Framework could help young men and woman pursue their passions and identify the best learning environment for them to excel.

I am always astonished when I hear the stories of kids who finished four years of college and are not sure what to do now or discover that there is no market for their knowledge. Did kids pursue their passions or their parent’s interests and goals for them? Did they even think about who they are and want to become before spending thousands of dollars and four years of their life?  I am not saying that young people need to have all of the answers in life but understanding their core interests and what makes this tick is critical to getting off to a great start in post-secondary education.

It’s been many years since I went off to college with little guidance on how best to pursue my passions and develop the required set of competencies for career success.  Much of my experience was self-learned through trial and error.  Even in my graduate MBA studies, there was minimal career strategy even though we went deep into strategy, market analysis, and leadership. Career strategy should be practiced leading up to college and during college to prepare for the next “learning” opportunity in the real world.  As a father of five with two preparing for college, you could say I am about to “eat my own dog food” as we say at Microsoft.

It all starts with the “Know” process and people understanding their interests, passions, and learning styles that will form the foundation for setting a direction.  All of my kids are different and I know I will need to take dedicated time to help them to explore their personal profiles. They have different interests, learning styles, and strengths.  Discussing the potential job market now and thinking about what skills will be required down the road will shape the “target market” and the development plan (e.g. college courses).

“Each day of your life much be guided by passions and critical success factors for realizing life’s purpose”

Artist: Patrick Gray

I encourage parents with teenagers who are preparing for college to review the Framework Overview for the questions and ideas that I hope will open up your minds to shape career strategies for our young men and women.

I took an important step over the last few weeks with my son by listening to his core interests, discussing future career ideas, and visiting a college that will be in harmony with his learning styles.  He is learning how to “sell” his style and market his talents for taking the next important step in his life next year.  As a parent I know I will be an important asset in helping him plan and support his direction. Invest in “career strategy” with our youth and let the creative energy flow!