My daughter Franziska, alias Sissi, is almost 14. She is the one on the far right next to my other girls and my grandson. She is an eighth grader. Last night I went to a parent – teacher event at her school where we spent the evening discussing our children’s future careers and the role of parents and the school in this process.
Sissi is a young-adult-in-the-making: some days a girl, some days a woman, and well, some days, just spending a lot of time getting dressed, talking to her friends, putting on make-up, Netlogging or Facebooking. She is smack dab in the middle of her rite of passage into becoming a woman – and is doing a great job! She is creative, gregarious, adventurous, curious, communicative, passionate, affectionate and emotional. She knows who she is and is learning a lot lately about what she wants to do in life, how to apply her natural gifts, her personality and her ever-growing interests to her future career. Right now, she has her sights focussed on becomming a graphic arts designer – something that would suit her just great.
It is my responsibility and honor as father and educator, developer and cheerleader to help all of my children – and not coincidentally, my students as well – in their self-discovery process and where they fit in this great and wonderful world. From my parents, I learn that this responsibility and honor never ends – to be an anchor for the long run.
Ok, but 13?
In Switerland, the process of deciding what you want to become – at least professionally – starts for most at the age of 13 or 14 – and the possibilities are endless. Next year, when Sissi is finished middle school, she will need to decide, having inputs from me and her mom, her sisters, her friends and extended family, what her next steps will be with regard to education – and her first career steps. It can be a daunting process regardless if you are 13 or 33 – if you don’t have the right guidance and assistance. If you do have the right help and tools, it is an amazing journey.
Thursday, Sissi will have her first of several visits to a Career Counselor who will explain to her how she should begin her process. Again, it starts with her knowing herself, what she is good at, what she is less good at, what her interests are. To find a vocation, a calling, not just a job or career is, unfortunately, usually far out of reach for most of the men and women I have encountered over the years. To find a career that is perfectly suited to your needs – custom made. Is it possible? Yes, it is. I know from my personal journey!
Last night, I was told that young apprentices being hired for the first time at age 15 or 16 are selected according the following criteria: dependability, personality, ability to follow instructions, ability to work independently, appearance, personal interests and life goals, and, most of all, character. When I heard this, I smiled. Some things never change. It is never really about skill, is it?
In the St. Gallen MBA program, many of our students are going through the same process as Sissi – although surely not as fundamental. Taking a personal inventory of their personalities, their interests, their gifts, their experiences and education until now. Putting all the pieces of this personal journey is like doing a 10’000 piece puzzle – it is hard work and it takes a while – no matter if you are Sissi doing it the first time, or taking a new turn in your career path like my MBA students. Find your calling!
The future is bright, the future is … YOURS !
Some basic resources: