Career Exploration. This may sound big for high school students who would rather enjoy the typical teenage stuff like hanging out with friends, computer games, facebook, tweeter, etc. During my time when life was a bit simpler, there were fewer choices on what college course to take up. In fact, I don’t remember giving it a huge amount of thought when I filled up my application form for college. I asked my oldest sister what course she took up and since I looked up to her academically I just wrote down A.B. Economics, my Manang’s course.
Times have changed and college courses and career options have multiplied. Because of this the third year high school parents at my sons’ school, in collaboration with the school, are exerting extra effort to help the boys make the right choice. For my son’s section we decided to come up with three sessions of Mini Career Exploration prior to the big one, which will be held in school for the entire batch. Why third year high? Because this is the year when they have to seriously do their selection process. Once they enter their senior year, it would be time to submit their application forms to the universities of their choice.
Our section’s first Career Exploration session was held at home on August 25, 2012. It was a fruitful and fun-filled day. The boys and their parents came together. We were also joined by Fr. Bert Ampil, S.J. (Head of the Office of Parent Relations and Programs), Mr. Ferdie Verayo (Head of Guidance), Mr. Ed Caligner (Guidance Counselor) and Mr. Marlon Pia (Class Moderator).
We started off with an opening prayer led by our beloved Fr. Bert. Then I gave an introduction explaining the activity. This was followed by the talks of two fathers from our section – a fund manager and a litigation lawyer. After which was the Q&A and the questions didn’t only come from the students but also from the other parents. It was a lively discussion that lasted for hours. Our guests from the Guidance Office also gave us their insights and some important data on the unique characteristics of our section.
Helping our children choose their course and university is no longer as simple as when we almost unilaterally chose their elementary and high school. They are now grown up individuals and they now play the major role in the choice. Ours is now a supporting role. But it’s an important role nonetheless because we are still the ones who know them well, who will finance their education and who wish for their success the most. Sometimes this brings conflict between the children and their parents. Oftentimes choices are made without taking into account the more important things.
In our Career Exploration we tried to give the children and the parents the proper framework and this is embodied in the Introduction that I delivered at the start of the session. I wish to share it with you:
Boys you’re all very lucky that your parents are spending extra time and effort to help you prepare for your career. The main objective of this exercise is to engage the 3N boy and his parents in a meaningful dialogue in order to plan for his future.
This is a journey that will take months until you finally pick your course come senior year. In the next couple of months we will also be receiving the results of your personality and skill tests from the Guidance Office and Mr. Verayo encourages all of us to set appointments with our Guidance Counselor.
Why do we want to engage you in a meaningful dialogue with your parents about the choice of career and course? Because we want to avoid the many sad stories we hear wherein a lot of young people are not able to pursue their own dreams and passion because their parents get in the way. “I want to be an animator but my father wouldn’t hear of it. He wants me to be a doctor, just like him.” or “My father insists that I take up Business because I will eventually run the family business.” Sometimes the end result may be good but this is just “chamba” (chance/luck) and not the norm. Most of the time the end result is not good. A lot of time and money are wasted. And worse, relationships are ruined.
But boys you should take note that we, your parents, don’t ask you to take this and that course just to make life miserable for you. On the contrary, we want nothing but the BEST for you. There is only one reason why sometimes parents impose a course on you: They honestly think this course is the best for you.
Let’s go back to the example of the boy who wants to take up animation but is prevailed upon to take up Medicine. Why do you think his father did so? It’s because he doesn’t have a clue what an animator is. Or if he understands it a bit, he thinks it’s not a serious job and he’s afraid that his son might end up not being able to fend for himself. As we say in the vernacular, “Baka pagdating ng araw gutom ang aabutin ng anak ko. Wala namang ganyang course noong araw.”
Now if I may address the parents, I’m sure all of us here want our sons to be as successful as they could be, to maximize their full potential, that’s why you’re here giving up one lazy Saturday afternoon, right? Now maybe we should try to reflect on our definition of success. What do you picture in your mind before you can say, “Yes my son is successful.” Try to imagine him 10 – 20 years from now.
(A volunteer was called to answer)
We have to acknowledge that sometimes a great deal of what constitutes our idea of a successful son is what gives us parents some bragging rights? We love to brag about our children. If we see our children as smart, we may frown upon courses that we think are not challenging enough for our bright boys, especially if we’re not familiar with them. Can we try to see if the son’s idea of being successful agrees with the parent’s?
(The son of the parent volunteer was called to give his answer.)
It is very important for the parent’s definition of success to agree with the son’s definition of his own success. Otherwise, it’s hard to move towards being successful.
There is one very powerful guide we can all use to define success. Success is being able to maximize our God given talents and usually our clue to these God given talents is our passion. As we always hear, successful people are those who follow their passion. But boys, may I remind you that following your passion is not the same as following what is in fashion. A good test to know your passion is to answer the question, “What am I willing to do for free?”
When you like doing something, you actually don’t mind doing it for free. You enjoy it so much, you do it with joy, you get very good at it, and then the money will follow.
Let me end this Introduction by sharing with you one of my favorite quotes from a theologian philosopher named Frederich Beuchner. He said, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” I like to paraphrase it this way: “God’s will for us is the intersection of our greatest passion and the world’s greatest need.”
So imagine Mr. Oracion, your Math teacher, showing you this graph (see slide) of the world’s many needs and your passions. Somewhere there is the intersection, which is your SWEET SPOT. That’s God’s will for you, that’s where He calls you to. And fulfilling God’s will is nothing less than being SUCCESSFUL IN LIFE. Actually, being successful in life is ultimately following God’s will!
And here’s the good news. Because there is a multitude of things each of you can be passionate about and there are countless needs in the world, I’m sure all of you can find your own intersection and be successful in life.
Isn’t it liberating to know that since our boys have different points of intersection, all of them here can be successful? It’s no longer the limiting idea wherein only a few will be successful, as we all crowd ourselves towards one direction because of a very narrow definition of success. There is room for everyone to be successful!
I hope I was able to put things in perspective for both the boys and the parents so this will be the framework of our adventure with our sons in the months to come, our Career Exploration with the boys. Make it a family affair. Start the conversation. This is the picture of our date with Anton when we had dinner with him minus his two older brothers to discuss the courses he’s considering.
Let’s always remember magkakampi ang magulang at anak sa layuning ito. (parents and children are allies in this endeavor). And most of all, let’s keep in mind that WE ALL HAVE OUR OWN POINT OF INTERSECTION, OUR SWEET SPOT WHERE HE CALLS US TO, WHERE WE WILL BE MOST SUCCESSFUL.
Thank you very much.
This is an exciting challenge for both parents and children. I hope those who are currently in the process of choosing their college courses are able to get valuable insights from this.
Wishing you a great exploration,