It's been awhile, so in case you need a recap I have two children. One is 16 this month and the other is 13. The eldest is sitting his GCSE exams and the youngest is choosing his GCSE options this year.
Both are pretty scary, to be honest. Helping my eldest revise for his exams. Having those conversations about what he might want to do after GCSEs. A Level choices have an impact on what he can study at university, talking about how he views his adult life after education. He's still only 15 and these are the conversations we're having. I get that people change track, that even if he follows one route doesn't mean he's locked into that path forever and ever. But even so.
Was everyone making those decisions at such a young age? Was everyone else having these thoughts about their entire futures at 15? I sure wasn't. I may have been going through things that other teenagers weren't (possibly more on this at another time) but I definitely never considered having a job. I never even considered what I wanted out of life or pictured myself as an adult. If you asked 15 year old me what she'd look like (or dream about!) 20 years down the line, 15 year old me probably would have shrugged and said 'dunno, I'll get there when I get there, I guess'
I actually didn't progress in schooling after the age of 16. It wasn't a lack of ability or desire, it was more about the circumstances of it all. I did go to university (eventually) and I have a degree (now) but I feel like I was floating in the wind for so much of my life. It really was only 4ish years ago when I was working as a supervisor at Accessorize where I decided what I didn't want to do: work in retail, work weekends, work shift patterns, be forced into working every Christmas. I've talked about it in a previous post but it really was only then, in my 30s, having only ever worked in retail that I sat down and considered what a 'proper' career might look like for me. And I was lucky. I found that HR might be something I'd enjoy doing, took a qualification in it and was able to get my first HR job off the back of that qualification. And now here I am 4 years into my new career and I couldn't be happier.
I'm not sure I even knew what HR was when I was my boys' ages. I certainly didn't think of it as a career prospect. I didn't study for it at university, it wasn't touched on in my education prior to that. Would it have occurred to me if I had my support as a teenager? if there were other people in my life looking out for me, helping me to ask the questions? Maybe.
One of the things that I've considered lately is becoming a mentor to young people - going to them (via systems in place, not just randomly approaching young people!) and speaking to them about the work that HR does. Or at least about my experiences. Whilst I find it a lot of pressure speaking with my 13 year old about his future and what prospects lay ahead of him, at least we're broaching the subject, he's giving things thought. And in having these conversations - with my boys, with any future mentees, who knows? - maybe things won't be so scary. I sure hope so.
Did your job prospects follow a straight line? Did you work in an area you studied in? Have you ever been a mentor? This subject fascinates me, I'd love to hear from you