As a parent, you try to prepare your kids for the real world as best as you can. With every new phase of their lives comes an opportunity to guide them on a clear path towards success.
But for most that ends with college, right? Historically, preparing your child for a professional role hasn’t been something that most parents focus on because it has been a cut and dried process. You graduate high school, you go to college, you get a job, you work your way up, and that’s what leads to career success. Today it’s not as simple as showing up, saying yes to your boss, and keeping your head down while you do your work. Hierarchies are changing to a flatter model and there are five generations in the workplace today — all with different upbringings and priorities. It’s time to start thinking about what you can do at home to prepare your child to navigate the world of work — not just an academic environment.
The New York Post reported that 89% of people think life would be a lot easier had they learned practical skills, noting that the average American doesn’t actually grasp “adult life skills” like how to navigate a workplace until the age of 29 when they’re nearly a decade into their career. One study showed that the average American only uses 37% of what they learned in high school in the “real world.” So as parents, you can help fill that gap, teach those skills, and mentally prepare them for what is ahead.
Here are some things you can do as a parent to help prepare your child for a successful transition from college to career.
Have Real Conversations
College-age students are more than old enough for real talk. It’s time to treat them as an adult and not sugarcoat things they’re going to experience. Have open and honest discussions about your own career trials and tribulations, failures, and current experiences. It’s okay to admit you’ve faced challenges in your career; that doesn’t make you weaker — it shows that you’ve worked hard to overcome those things, and admitting that to your child will help them do the same.
Most of the best education comes from real life and failing. Every failure is a learning experience that helps you grow, and it’s important that your child understands that when walking into this new and challenging season of transition.
Set Realistic Expectations
It’s understandable that as a parent you like to protect your child. But you need to make sure they know the world of work isn’t all sunshine and roses. They’re not going to be perfect at their job on the first day. On average, it takes new hires up to eight months to be productive in their role, and maybe even longer for straight-out-of-college new hires.
Not only are they going to learn how to navigate a real professional role, but also they’re going to learn the intricacies of working in a professional environment. Encourage them to set realistic goals and accept that it won’t be easy. That way, they don’t put unrealistic expectations and pressure on themselves as they start this transitory phase in life.
Teach Them How to Interact Intergenerationally
Hierarchies are changing, but they’re still very much the same in some workplaces. People still get irritated when younger new hires don’t know “their role” and have unrealistic career expectations. In companies where all managers might very well be Boomers, it’s important your child knows how to respect that dynamic, while also not letting it dull their newly graduated fire and passion. While they may have more autonomy in the workplace today than in years past, it’s still important to embrace the skills they can learn from those managers or coworkers who have been at the company for years.
Let Them Take the Wheel
Ultimately, your job is to empower them to embrace this next season, prepare themselves, and be open to learning. While you can help guide them, it’s not all up to you! Our NimblyWise team helps new grads learn skills and mindsets that prepare them to navigate the workplace. Empower them with your experiences and resources, and let them take the wheel!