A few years ago, I met with a 20 year old from Fairfield, CT. As we were in a career counseling session, I asked her what her parents did for work so I could understand her general sense of potential jobs. She did not know and said what other students have touched upon: “they never discuss their work with me.” Both her parents worked in offices and her father traveled a lot. That was the extent of her knowledge of what they did.
Throughout much of history, young children saw the work of their parents. They either helped their parents with work or they observed what their parents did for work. Farmers, of course, usually started their on-the-job training before age 10. Even as society progressed into the industrial revolution, the vast majority of teenagers would understand the work world far better than young adults today. Teens from the past knew their parents went to the factory and probably saw their parents work at the factory on numerous occasions. As the work world started becoming more abstract and corporate America developed, a great gulf of ignorance developed as young adults made their way into the work world.
When Career Counseling Connecticut has public presentations for young adults, I will ask “what does your parent do for work?” The most common answer: “something in business.” No details follow because very high schools and stunningly even many college students have little idea about most real jobs.
Years ago, I started Career Counseling Connecticut from a place of helping young adults who, by the mere fact that they came from affluent Connecticut suburbs, career choices. Solving their pain of career mismatch was the mission. But the world shifted.
The Great Recession was the obvious bright line between the old days of economic jobs a plenty work world and the now brutal economic reality facing twentysomethings. But there were many factors – globalization, automation, the demise of the social contract between corporations and employees among others – that have created a big challenge for twentysomethings trying to get on the path towards career building employment.
Self-serving as it may sound, one of the better things you can do for college or twentysomething age adult child is getting them an effective career advisor sooner than later.