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10 Things Girls Need to Know About Careers logo 23/4/2019 Marsha Takeda-Morrison
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a girl sitting on a bus: girls-careers-advice-firefighter © Provided by RockYou Media(; girls-careers-advice-firefighter Twenty20

What do you want to be when you grow up? Chances are, every young person has been asked that numerous times by parents, friends and teachers. But it’s a question that can come with a certain amount of baggage for young girls, as they begin to discover that their choices can be influenced by the limits society puts on their career goals.

Let’s help them figure out “what they want to be” by giving them advice that supports their aspirations and encourages them to seek out a career that will be meaningful to them. Here are a few things to share with your daughter – or son – as they begin their journey.

1. Don’t let anything – or anyone – limit your goals. Dream big. This doesn’t mean having unrealistic goals, but don’t let anyone’s thoughts (including your own) or any circumstances put a limit on what you can achieve with your life. Frida Kahlo was studying to become a doctor (not a popular pursuit for women in the early 1900s) until an injury forced her to drop out of school. She began painting during her rehabilitation and became one of the most famous artists of the 20th century.

2. Don’t let gender define your goals. There aren’t any careers that are “just for boys” or “just for girls,” although society – and the media – often attempt to make it seem that way. For example, women remain underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers, partly due to the negative stereotypes about girls’ intellectual abilities. But things are changing. Recent statistics show that more women have entered STEM careers over the past 40 years than any other field.

3. The paycheck isn’t everything. Money shouldn’t be the defining factor in deciding on a career goal. Although earning potential is always a concern when deciding on your life’s pursuit, more important questions to ask would be: Would that paycheck come at a high personal cost? What sacrifices would you make in your home life and relationships for a higher salary? It’s important to put your happiness – and your health – at the top of the list.

4. Don’t shun the arts. If you have a passion – and a talent – for singing, dancing, painting or acting, don’t let anyone tell you that these aren’t viable career paths or that these pursuits are “just hobbies.” Many people have a successful – and fulfilling – career in the arts. Just know that, like any career, it takes lots of hard work and discipline, and shouldn’t be looked at as an “easy way out.”

5. Take a good look at your “dream job.” Do you have a dream job? Have you thought about what exactly it is that makes it your dream job? If you’ve dreamt of becoming a lawyer, decide whether it’s the prestige and money that attracts you, or if you have a love for the law and a desire to help people. Likewise, if your fantasy is to become a famous pop singer (see No. 4 above), look at whether it’s the fame and attention you desire, or whether it’s your overwhelming passion for making music that is driving you.

6. Find out what your passion is. Take a good look at the things and the activities that you love, and use them to try to tailor your career goals. Your love for animals might steer you toward zoology or veterinary medicine, or your obsession with computer games could lead you to a career in game design or programming. Make a list of all the things that you have a passion for, and a school counselor can help you sort through them and home in on a viable career path.

7. Ask for help. Don’t hesitate to ask for help in defining your goals. School counselors, parents and adult mentors are valuable resources for career advice, and no doubt have faced many of the same issues you’re facing now. Another important resource: people working in fields you are interested in.

8. Identify your professional heroes. Who are the people who have the jobs you want? Look around you and decide who is living the life you admire. It could be a teacher, a celebrity or a politician. Then study their career paths and how they got to where they are. Reach out to them, if possible, and ask questions about what their position entails, how they got started, as well as the ups and downs of their jobs. They can give you valuable insight.

9. Look beyond the mainstream. Don’t limit yourself to the careers that you’re familiar with. Do some research, and seek out jobs and careers that might not be on anyone’s radar, but might just be the perfect fit for you. For example, you can actually make a good living retrieving golf balls, an ideal job for someone with a love of the sport or who loves being out on the course.

10. You can have more than one career. Finally, just as you’re allowed to change your mind, you’re allowed to change your career! Don’t feel as if choosing a work path is a life sentence. There’s no rule that says you can’t have many careers and jobs in your lifetime. Ellen DeGeneres was a paralegal and an oyster shucker before becoming an actress and a super successful talk-show host. Julia Child was a CIA intelligence officer before she became one of the most famous chefs in history.

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