In our rush to get students “college and career ready,” I wonder if we’re not overlooking the importance of first-hand experience doing the kinds of work done in the career fields that students think may interest them.
One of my cousins was very interested in art and design. He enrolled in the architecture program at Syracuse University. One of the first things he learned was that he absolutely hated doing the mathematical calculations that architecture requires.
He changed career paths, became a science illustrator.
Such vocational changes are not uncommon.
Here’s part of an abstract of a study about law firm attrition:
Because students have grown up watching doctors and lawyers on television, they think they know what doctors and lawyers do. After graduation, when they discover the not-suitable-for-prime-time elements of their chosen careers, they may decide they should have become shoe designers or forklift operators instead.
In a Forbes article about why so many physicians regret their career choice, Howard Forman, a professor at the Yale School of Management who studies healthcare leadership, says:
If young people pursue the profession with full knowledge of what’s in store, they’ll be more satisfied than if they believe they’re going to be thanked every 15 minutes.
Perhaps instead of live-streaming video of raptors’ nests in the wild 24 hours a day, we could steam images of CPAs and home health aides and computer technicians’ work sites (
as this webcam of an Arlington, Texas, airfield does once a minute every day [[broken link removed 2016-01-22]) to give students a glimpse into the real workplace.
OK, it’s a crazy idea.
What do you suggest instead?