A child’s career aspirations do not very accurately predict his or her occupation as an adult, my husband has learned in his career counseling class. I tucked that piece of information away earlier this week. Then yesterday evening we were at a neighborhood block party when firefighters from our local Station 22 turned up.
The four men in uniform brought along their big truck to show the children. While our little boy, who is enamored with trucks, was examining the impressive red machine I asked the chief how old he was when he knew he wanted to be a firefighter. “This is actually my second career,” he said. He was in his thirties when he made the career switch. The three of his colleagues had a similar story of working elsewhere before getting hired by the fire department. It’s a highly competitive field to enter, he explained.
So even if a child has the dream of becoming a firefighter, and even if he or she scores well on the test, there’s only a slim chance of getting the job. But both the professor and the firefighter agree that it is never too early to begin the career exploration path.
Reading books about jobs is an excellent place to start. Perhaps next time we are at the library we’re going to look for Firefighters A to Z or some of the other titles on the book list developed by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at UW Madison.
When we are running errands or out on excursions, my kids and I talk a fair amount about jobs. I want them to realize that there are many options. I want them to make an informed choice. As they grow older, we’ll talk about how their interests and abilities play a role in the decision, but for now it seems like enough to get a bird’s eye view. Especially for my 4-year-old who has determined that he’s going to be a paleontologist.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
How do you teach your kids about careers?