Fresh ways for parents to start a conversation with their child about careers

How do you approach talking about careers with your child? Careers expert Julie Poppleton shares top tips to help you and your child take a fresh approach to having conversations about their future…

Have conversations about careers and research careers with your children from a young age!

Start having conversations with your child from a young age! There has been a lot of research and evidence to prove children as young as 4 start thinking about their future careers and already base some of their thoughts about jobs on gender stereotyping. One piece of research called ‘Drawing the Future’, showed the difference between children’s career aspirations from the age of seven to 17 were marginal.

Many aspirations were inspired from watching TV and films or Social Media. Research has also shown that the jobs children aspire to, may only be held in high regard because these jobs are the only ones that they are aware of from their own parents or those of their friends’ parents.

What early messages could you be giving your children about having a career and the world of work?

Consider what hidden messages you think your children may have got from you about your own career.

Do you talk about your day in a positive or a negative way? Do your children see you being tired, stressed, non-communicative when you get home, being unhappy or unsatisfied? Is the world of work just something you have to do to pay the bills?

Many young people I have interviewed over the years have no idea what careers their parents or family members have, or what do they actually do all day long. They do not know if their parents are happy with their jobs and get any satisfaction.

What conversations do you have? Do you share any exciting or big news with your family about work and any job satisfaction ? Do you talk about what challenges you have ever faced and how they got resolved?

These conversations can help children better understand what work looks like and that it is more than simply going to the same place every day. It can help with those future conversations you can have about your child’s careers.

Get inspired by your local area, family activities and family holidays…

Any situation can lead to mutually beneficial conversations with your child about careers!

Consider what is around you in your local area that could prompt these conversations. Is there a new Housing Estate or a new School or Shopping Centre being built? As you walk or drive past, you could talk about all the different roles this could involve.

When young people think about Construction jobs, they will often know about the trades… but what about other roles? You can still be an Accountant or a Nurse but work in Construction.

When you go food shopping, what retail jobs do you think they see ? Your child will very highly likely know about the staff working on the tills and filling the shelves. Consider what other roles in retail aren’t on public view. What about Digital jobs, Personnel, Marketing, HR, Finance, and Management jobs? You and your child can discuss together how all the food and other goods/products got to the store, and who made that happen. What about the buying, the farming, the Food Engineering and the Logistics sector in getting the food to the stores?

When you’re on holiday, the hotels, restaurants, and amusement or water parks are filled with people in careers your child might not have ever thought about before. It’s not just about hospitality and catering jobs.

Think about landmark fun destinations like Alton Towers, Harry Potter World, Sea Life Centre, and Disney World . Check their websites to have a look at all the different careers your child could enjoy with a brand they love… including some unusual ones like being a Disney ‘Imagineer’.

Don’t know what a Disney Imagineer is? You’re not alone, it’s a career that isn’t talked about much… but google ‘Disney careers’ with your child and you’re sure to see it pop up so you can both find out more!

About Julie Poppleton

Julie Poppleton is a Director of Careers. She is a Level 7 Careers Leader and a Level 6 qualified Careers Practitioner. Her leadership responsibilities and expertise include Employer, Stakeholder and Community Partnership Engagement including parents and families. She sits on a Senior Leadership Team for a Secondary School in Staffordshire and her additional commitments include:
  • Vice Chair – Southern Skills Employers and Educators Board
  • Chair Staffordshire Careers Professionals Forum
  • Executive Board Member Tamworth & Lichfield District Chamber of Commerce
  • Member of the Staffordshire Education and Skills Strategic Group
  • Lead school for the Careers and Enterprise/Stoke and Staffs LEP Careers
  • Hub and member of the Steering Group Committee
  • Moderator for Inspired Teenager Plus
  • Careers peer awards reviewer for Careers and Enterprise Company


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