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Hi all. My sister has just turned 16 and will be making some decisions soon that will affect the rest of her life. I wanted to help her out by building up an unbiased list of professions that she could consider. (Reason being - I had some pretty shitty career advice when I was younger, and I want to take the time to help her with what I did not receive).

Any one got any good resources they have found regarding jobs?

Thanks!
 

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(I've probably linked this article one too many times but) my boss and co-author wrote a great article recently in the Wall Street Journal on hedging your human capital. Here's an excerpt:

Start Early. On a fundamental level there are steps we can all adopt to reduce the risk level on our personal balance sheets, but these actions must start when we're in college, and perhaps even earlier.

Recall that the dividends you receive from your human capital are not solely the result of hard work, innate skills, fortuitous parents or sheer luck. Rather, these dividends can be traced to the investment of time, money and effort during your student years. The skills you acquire in your late teens and early 20s set the stage for the value of human capital. Surgeons who spent more than 10 years as undergraduates plus medical school and then internship and residency invested in their human capital. They were not consuming time. They were investing time.

Therefore, in my opinion—and this might get me in trouble with my academic colleagues—too many students (and some parents) view education as a consumption good. They immerse themselves in a liberal-arts degree and study dance or literature or dance literature, without any regard for how this might influence the future dividends of their human capital.

It is time to wake up and measure the internal rates of return from your undergraduate major. If it is too late for you, then make sure your kids are aware of this. Invest time acquiring skills that will diversify the risk inherent in human capital. Just as consumers continue to demand greater transparency and disclosure of the risks inherent in financial products, perhaps it is time to think about the risks of an undergraduate degree in Latin or Greek. Trust me here. Learning some cost accounting, microeconomics and business statistics will help reduce the future risk on their future balance sheet. Do not let your kids leave college without a hedge for the human capital.


The TL, DR version is: Don't start a college or university program without at least SOME idea of how you will use those years to build skills you can deploy in the marketplace - and don't leave college or university without having taken at least a few business courses.

And if she wants to check out the relative pay of different professions, one place to start is payscale.com.

A really great, interesting blog (although the author is just a little crazy and some posts likely should not be read by 16-year-olds) is Brazen Careerist by Penelope Trunk. (I linked to the "career fulfillment" posts.)
 

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Personally I think 16 is a bit young to be making career decisions: some people are drawn to a particular field early on, but many kids have to flail around for a few years (or decades!) before they find their calling. It's not unusual for kids to change majors several times during late high school and university.

High school guidance counselors can usually provide some good resources on career possibilities; at 16 I think a good approach would be to start by crossing things off the list that you know for sure you don't want to pursue. If you hate science and do poorly in math, for example, that probably means a whole range of career options won't be of interest to you.

Another good exercise is to look through job listings online or in a newspaper and see which ones sound interesting. That can sometimes give you a better sense of the kinds of jobs you'd enjoy doing than any number of standardized tests could reveal. And then once you've pinpointed a few options, you can look at the qualification requirements to see what you'd have to do to get there from here.

It's also worth reading this recent article for some contrarian perspective: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/16/weekinreview/16steinberg.html
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the input - I will read over the resources.

I know what you mean when you think that 16 seems too early to think of career, however in my opinion she is coming up to the point of choosing to do higher education or not. This will in turn affect what her options are down the line as a job.

If she chooses to do higher education and does art and drama then down the line wants to apply for medicine or some science based skill she will be somewhat hampered.

So basically her decisions now have a chain effect on her options for her future. I feel it is an important crossroads that would probably be worthwhile reviewing some basic options for ideas, than not at all.

The sucky thing is at 16 you don't fully know your character or what you want to do as a job. :(
 

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I know what you mean when you think that 16 seems too early to think of career,
Not too early to THINK of career, just too early to settle on one. I personally know a few exceptions (I was one of them myself, and a young acquaintance of mine knew at 14 what she wanted to do in life and is headed down that path with bold determination and admirable focus), but I just think most kids at age 16 or even 18 or 20 are still trying to figure out what they want to do in life.

So I definitely think this is a time to be thinking of careers, getting a sense of where one's passions and interests may lie, getting realistic about what options are not likely, figuring out next steps, and keeping the options open and available (i.e., not burning any bridges). And as the NY Times article I linked to points out, not all good career choices require going to college.
 

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as a college professor, I think about this topic continually. And you would think I would have some great advice, but I really don't. I have lots of horror stories of students who had no clue what our program/field was about and flunked out flushing $10K down the toilet in the process.

I think the best thing for a 16 year old, is to socialize with 30-somethings.

Meet people who have made the choices and are living the dream (or nightmare) and find out why they love or hate what they do.
 

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(I've probably linked this article one too many times but) my boss and co-author wrote a great article recently in the Wall Street Journal on hedging your human capital. Here's an excerpt:
Now that was a good read. I wish i had read this article 25 yrs ago... problem is, i wouldn't have understood it. Why do i feel like quoting Bertrand Russel..
 

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I wouldn't make any long term decisions at 16; if they don't know what they want, go into a general program and figure it out in a year or two. In the end, hardly anybody ends up doing what they went to school for.

I knew I was going to be a programmer when I was 14. That dream lasted until I spent a couple of co-op terms programming. Guess what? I'm a horrible programmer. And I hate it. I haven't worked in programming since I left school in the 80's.

Most people change careers something like 6 times these days (I've done it a few times myself) so don't sweat the education. If she's not going to be a doctor or dentist then what post secondary education should do is teach one to think - more so than educate them on a particular trade. Also there should be some partying involved.
 

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16 is definitely not too young to be thinking about careers. In between now and decision time (which is not written in stone) I recommend that sis do as much research as possible and arrange to job shadow some people doing the careers she's interested in. I am a physician and I have had people as young as twelve shadow me for a day. It's arranged through a specific office at the university. The benefits for the young people are twofold: 1. they get to see what people actually do all day; 2. they make a contact whom they can call for advice and information. It's also fun for the person being shadowed! :)
 
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