What Did You Want to Be as a Kid?
I am Joe Strechay and I work at the American Foundation for the Blind in the AFB CareerConnect program. I write about career exploration, employment, and transition for the most part. On occasion I get the opportunity to write about current issues, entertainment, or technology.
I think back to the days when I was a child or even teenager. I wanted to work on the business side of professional sports — preferably the National Football League. I did come out of my undergraduate degree working in sports-related public relations and marketing. I enjoyed that, but I came to the conclusion that I was more interested in education. Truthfully, that was a debate for me during my undergraduate years. Our career goals change over time and through experience.
What is a realistic career goal? It is a goal that is achievable, and congruent with the educational path that an individual is taking. A career goal isn’t always defined by a person’s interest, but a person is more likely to be satisfied by a career that relates to an interest. “Relates” is a key word for this because not everyone can get that dream job to start. It is important to realize that within a field there are many different types of jobs. You can look at the AFB CareerConnect Career Cluster for law and you will see exactly what I am explaining.
When I hear someone wants to work in a specific field, I start to think about what it is that interests them. What skills and abilities do they have? What would they value about a job or a place of employment?
These are not simple questions. It takes years of career exploration and even trial and error through experiences to answer them. The road to becoming more self-aware can be a bumpy one; not all teens or persons are willing to open their eyes to reality. We are not all going to be famous actors, singers, or professional athletes — am I talking crazy here? I am not Simon Cowell, formerly of “American Idol.” I am a guy who believes we all need to explore.
Career planning is a lifetime journey. I am still planning my career. I set a career goal for a few years down the line, and then I create objectives that will allow me to reach that goal. I was just telling my wife that towards the end of my graduate work, I set a goal that I wanted to work at AFB within CareerConnect. I set that goal seven years ago. I have been working within CareerConnect for a little over three years.
I still have career goals and objectives that I am attempting to achieve. How many of your children have mentors? I still have mentors, and they change as my career goals change. Mentors are great for helping you research and find out how you can reach a goal. I have mentors for different aspects of my life even. AFB CareerConnect can help connect your children or teens with mentors who are blind or visually impaired and working in their fields of interest.
Take the time as the summer begins to help your children explore careers through real life experiences. Introduce them to the jobs that are around them when you go to a store, office, hotel, mechanic, and more. Schedule some visits to local places that may host jobs related to their interests.
Get them thinking about all that it takes to be employed by encouraging them to use the Job Seeker’s Toolkit on AFB CareerConnect. The Job Seeker’s Tookit is a free, self-paced, online, employment process course aimed at teens and adults who are blind or visually impaired. The course covers self-awareness, career exploration tools and resources, pre-interview skills and tools, and the interview and followup.
One great thing about this course is that you can register as a user and then choose to generate a teacher code. Your child can enter this in their profile and associate you as the teacher. Being an associated teacher just means you can check your child’s progress, and your child can send you copies of her assignments via e-mail with a check of a box. Check it out!
Some ideas for the summer months:
- Talk to your child about career goals
- Explore careers on AFB CareerConnect
- Point out jobs in the natural environment
- Schedule visits to different locations with jobs of interest
- Encourage the importance of mentors
- Get your child using the Job Seeker’s Toolkit
What are your child’s career goals? What objectives do you think will help him reach those goals?