I had a delightful experience recently—participating in a career day, “Operation Preparation,” for Grant County, Kentucky, eighth graders. I was part of a panel of educators who talked to four groups of students interested in becoming teachers.
I enjoyed the experience especially because my wife, a retired elementary school teacher, was on the program with me, as were a librarian, a retired principal, and a career counselor. I represented the university system. We all gave short talks on the preparation for a career in education and answered student questions.
This experience reminded me of what is more important in preparing for college or a professional school than just your prior education. Here is some of the advice I gave them.
Probably most important is to research occupations that will be in demand when you expect to graduate from college. I agonize for students who major in history, psychology, or other liberal arts majors. These majors are interesting, but finding a job will be very difficult. On the other hand, with the aging population increasing dramatically, any career that deals with senior citizens will probably be in demand.
Develop good study habits. Self-discipline will be critical. Learn to set aside time for study, even if you are not in school currently. Becoming a lifelong student is vital in any career.
Network whenever possible. Talk to people who are successful in the career that you are considering. Ask their advice on how to prepare for that career. Join groups that can provide helpful information.
Those of us who are older have a responsibility to train those who are young; you don’t have to be a parent to do that. Talk to the eighth graders—or seniors—you know about their life goals and offer suggestions based on your experience. Your advice could be invaluable to them.
As Francois de La Rochefoucauld said, “Good advice is something a man gives when he is too old to set a bad example.“
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. He presents keynotes and seminars to corporations and associations whose people want to speak and listen effectively. See additional articles and resources at www.sboyd.com. To book Steve, call 800-727-6520 or email him through his website.