Clear Comm Consulting

An Answer When Your Kid says, “What should I do for a living?”

Mar 27, 2014

This Monthly Memo takes us off the beaten path a bit, but come along for the ride, okay? Spring is upon us (or at least it’s getting close for some of us) and with it comes the ritual of graduation. So what will all those bright and shiny new graduates do once the pomp and circumstance stops? Having two recent college graduates (last year) and a high school graduate (this year) in my own family, I have been giving it some thought lately. Also, each year I teach a group of graduate students at ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business and it is ALWAYS a topic with them, so allow me to share what I’ve learned about this question.

First, most of us, in general, have no idea what the rest of the world does for a living. Think about it. What we really know is what we do, or what our parents and loved ones do – sort of. I used to play a game with junior high and high school students who were friends of my own kids. While I would be giving them a ride to various dance lessons or school functions I would ask, “So, what does your Mom/Dad do for a living?” Most would struggle to provide even the most basic details. “Uh, I think they do something with sales.” “Well, he goes to one of the big buildings downtown.” “She is some kind of engineer.”

How about your kids? Can they explain in any detail what you do? It’s a worthy discussion and provides a hearty endorsement for the “Bring your son/daughter to work day.” Don’t just show them the place but try to really impart to them what the work is all about. It can start them on a journey of discovering what others do – and in turn what they might end up doing. Who inspires or interests your kids among your adult friends? Would they mind taking your kid to work sometime soon? Again, that time can be a possible difference maker.

My Dad and Grandfather were both bricklayers and home builders. I LOVED going to work with him, but it also didn’t take me long to realize that was VERY hard work and probably not something I would end up doing for a living. (What’s more, my Grandpa informed me at about age 7 that I should find an easier line of work. I am eternally grateful, and so is my back! Thanks Grandpa!)

So if we (maybe) know what our parents do for a living that leaves a pretty big universe out there we really know nothing about. How do we resolve that dilemma? First, it makes the importance of internships and part-time jobs loom even larger. How many people followed their career path because of time they spent as an intern or part-time worker in an industry or specific field? Or think about this: there are a surprising number of doctors, nurses and therapists who got into their business because a childhood illness or injury exposed them to a fascinating line of work that ends up becoming their passion!

At the very least, any adult should consider it their responsibility to accurately share their profession and what they love about it to any young person they encounter. Think of the difference it can make!

So here are answers for that question: “Follow me to work, do the same with your Aunt Mary, find an interesting part-time job and sign up for internships.” Finally, just drive them through an industrial park. There are all kinds of companies there that make money and do things you probably never heard of that could be an employer in the future!

Ever see Cary speak? Here’s a quick example: (Click on the homepage video.)

Please follow along through the month @CaryPfeffer

Cary Pfeffer is the founder of ClearComm Consulting,, a Scottsdale, AZ communications consulting firm that helps people tell their story. He works with clients to make the most of their media and live audience communication. Email him at: [email protected].

Cary Pfeffer is the founder of ClearComm Consulting,, a Phoenix, AZ-based communications consulting firm which is helping people tell their story. He works with clients to make the most of their media and live audience communication. Email him at: [email protected]

Follow along with Cary on Twitter @CaryPfeffer

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