Career Day

Career Day

Career Day

Last week, I was at my son’s middle school for Career Day. I struggled a bit as I thought of how to describe what I do and whether it would be relevant to 11- and 13-year olds.

Could I show them how working out loud would give them access to opportunities that could make work – and life – better?

“How would you find a job?”

So I started with a question: “How would you find a job?” And the responses from the 50 kids in two different classes were largely the same.

“Fill out a form”

“You might see a help wanted sign”

“Apply on line.”

“Ask family and friends.”

They were the same answers I would have given 30+ years ago. Then I followed up with a question they found much more interesting.

“What do you want to do when you grow up?”

A cake by Rosanna Pansino

A cake by Rosanna Pansino

Now more hands shot up. “Baseball player.” “Something with physics.” “Decorate cakes.”

“Decorate cakes?” I asked. “Okay. How would you get a job decorating cakes?”

The aspiring cake decorator said she might go to her local bakery and apply. Good. But what if she could put her cake decorating skills online so 100 or 1000 bakeries could see what she could do?

Another girl piped up: “Like Rosanna Pansino.”

Um, who? “She bakes things and puts her videos on YouTube.”

So I pulled out my phone, searched for Rosanna Pansino and, sure enough, I found this:

Search results for Rosanna Pansino

Rosanna, it turns out, is 28 years old and has had some minor acting roles. But she also loves baking. And instead of applying for a baking job, she starting using social media to make her work visible and establish her reputation as the “Baker of Nerdy Things.”

Best. Job. Ever.

Major League GamingAs time was running out, one young boy got the courage to say “I want to be a gamer.”

The other kids laughed and the teacher was skeptical. “Are there jobs like that?” But the kids knew better. “Sure! You could test games.” “You could create them.” “You could play them in contests.” “You could write books.”

Having gone through several examples of working out loud with the class, I asked them: “What advice would you give your classmate? How could he find opportunities to play video games for a living?”

“He could post cheat codes online.” “He could post videos of him playing.” “He could play online where other people could see him.”

In short, he could play games in an online, public way that would make his skills searchable and discoverable while helping him connect with people in the gaming world. He could work out loud.

How would you find your next job?

If young people can embrace the idea of working out loud for such a wide range of aspirations, what will you do when you look for a new job? Will you fill out a form? Ask your friends and family for connections?

The universe of possible positions for you is so large and yet the traditional routes to finding a job are so grossly limiting and ineffective. You, your broker, and your close connections will only be aware of a small sliver of the possibilities unless you use social platforms and work out loud.

As the class got ready for their next session, I had one final question.

“You have an incredible advantage. You have ways to make you and your work visible that people my age never had. As a result, you have access to so many more opportunities than your teacher and me.

How will you use that advantage?”

About John Stepper

Helping organizations create a more collaborative culture – and helping individuals access a better career and life – by spreading the practice of Working Out Loud.
This entry was posted in Self awareness and improvement and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Career Day

  1. Kitty Wooley says:

    John, I bet the kids really loved this – I did. Just imagine what might be possible in the workplace if similar conversations took place. There’s huge potential for startling improvement in both employee self-fulfillment and performance in combining “working out loud” with connecting across boundaries – whether self-imposed or imposed by others. Thanks.

  2. Cornelia Levy-Bencheton says:

    So, is it you? Or are most Middle School kids as clued in as these? If it’s you, no surprise! You seem to have a knack for bringing out the magic within. Seems like these kids are peeps we need to keep up with. They know the scoop. What else can we learn from them? How about a longitudinal study to follow them through some of their key decision points ahead? High school and college choices? Summer vacations and projects? Essays on what I want to be and why. Surprises. Expectations. They are already so far ahead with their understanding of connectivity and social media. I’m staying tuned for more!
    Many thanks for sharing.

    • John Stepper says:

      Ha! I can honestly say the kids didn’t love it (but thanks, Kitty) and they aren’t any more switched on than you or me. (For example, they all thought Wikipedia was unreliable. Not sure who was feeding them that.)

      My point though, was that even kids as young as 11 can at least recognize how working out loud is better than the traditional methods. And that’s true whether you want to decorate cakes, play video games, or join a venture capital firm.

      My guess is they are no better or worse than you or me at actually applying what they now know. It’s the practice and execution that matters. And younger people have no advantage on those fronts.

  3. Tom Gilbert says:

    Careers are a tricky subject for kids. I’m pretty sure that from age 5-10 I wanted to be either an ice cream van driver, or own a sweet shop. You can tell my motivation for those choices… Around 11-13 is very tricky because you are old enough to realise that eating your own profits is not a good business model. I’m pretty sure 11 to about 18 I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do 😮

    To be honest at that age it’s very fluid and the main thing is to work hard to keep your options open. As someone who wanted to run a sweet shop, ended up doing a chemistry degree and ended up in IT for a Bank, I’d say the main thing to work towards is versatility 🙂

  4. giblet says:

    Oh.. Also I would rather present to 1000 adults than 10 11-13 year olds, so well done for doing that!

  5. Pingback: Patience is a name. Serendipity is my virtue. | A-Marie Imafidon : blog

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