Tips to help YOUR children thrive during National Career Week

‘You have to be shameless’: Careers expert reveals the tips ALL parents need to help their children get on the right path – including ditching British reserve to ask friends for favours

  • National Career Week could help your kids find their future career path 
  • Expert consultant Edd Williams advises parents to ‘listen to all options’ available
  • He places emphasis on networking and encouragement – and says they are key 
  • University might not be the best path for your child, so keep your options open 

This week marks National Careers Week – an annual event designed to showcase the importance of strong and impartial careers and academic guidance. 

Unfortunately, despite new measures being put in place, many schools up and down the country simply aren’t doing what is necessary to give their students the best chance of success. 

While many parents take the school’s word for it, the reality is that parents all need to contribute in guiding their children when it comes to their future. 

Here, recruitment consultant Edd Williams offers his top tips on what parents can do to help ensure their children are making the decisions that best serve their futures.

Recruitment and academic consultant Edd Williams gives his tops tips on how to make the most of National Career Week – including encouragement and listening to their hopes and expectations

Encourage your kids

Encourage them to think as much and as early as possible about their futures. Too often schools are linear in their thinking and don’t always join the academic and the career side of things. 

By encouraging them to think about the two areas as being linked, it will help give a purpose to their learning, create a potential path, which in turn will allow them to seek out useful work experience that will benefit either an apprenticeship or university application. 

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Every decision they make from GCSE options onwards has a knock-on effect, if they don’t know where they’re headed encourage them not to make choices that will actively close off avenues.

Get involved 

Both your child and the school will likely assure you that everything is fine and it’s all in hand, but don’t take it in faith. 

Involve yourself as much as you can to make sure they are hitting their marks. Education is incredibly important, but the sooner a student engages with the world of work and the place they want to inhabit within it, the better. 

The expert advises you encourage your children to think about their future and make it clear school and future careers are linked together 

There’s still a disconnect between education and careers, but laying the right educational foundation will naturally help your child to achieve their career goals. 

If your children are interested in an area and they secure and enjoy work experience in that area, it immediately gives a purpose to their school work, knowing what their goals are is invaluable, as it links two previously disparate ideas.

Use your network and be shameless

Use your network, both professional and personal to help your child secure internships and work experiences that will help clarify where they might want to be. 

Increasingly, the extra curricular activities and a demonstrable, long-standing commitment to an area, as detailed in a personal statement or application, can make the difference between success and failure in gaining a place at top flight universities, landing that apprenticeship or getting that first job. 

Be shameless on their behalf.

Edd Williams highlights the importance of using your networks in order to find the best options available for your child 

Narrow it down to one potential career path

Most students don’t have a fully realised plan for their futures; maybe loose ideas about where they want to live or a field of interest. 

By exploring that field they can refine and narrow it down into a potential career path which will reveal which of the educational options makes sense. 

Wrack your brains: who do you know in that field that may be able to offer them work experience, answer questions, refer them to others working in the area? 

Ask your friends, neighbours, relatives, parents at the school gates, the school themselves, local businesses, your colleagues and so on. 

Don’t be British about it – most people are happy to try and help if they can – and if they can’t, they’ll let you know. But as they say – if you don’t ask you won’t get. 

Talk to your kids and listen to their hopes and expectations 

Make time to talk – and more importantly, listen – to what your child’s hopes and expectations are for the future. 

It’s important to make time to talk with your child about their hopes and expectations for National Career Week in order to make sure they can use their skills and abilities in the best possible setting, says the expert 

It may be you’ve got very strong opinions about what your child should do, but it’s important you listen to what they want to do. 

The prescribed routes of your youth are no longer necessarily pertinent to the current job climate. It’s reductive to suggest that university is only useful if it’s geared towards a career. 

If your reasoning for wanting them to go is for job prospects it may be there are better routes open to them now, depending on their skills and abilities (apprenticeships, degree apprenticeships etc). 

Give them an opportunity to articulate what/how they see the next few years unfolding. 

When you have a clearer view of an endpoint (because higher education is not an end, merely a stepping stone), explore which of the available options is likely to be the most realistic and supportive of those aspirations.

Consider all options

Let them think as widely as possible about their options. There remains a certain snobbery that university leads to the best jobs and certainly it’s true for many professions that it’s enormously helpful, but for just as many it’s not a necessity. 

Apprenticeships and Degree Apprenticeships offer training, pay, a strong likelihood of employment and in the case of the latter, a Bachelors or Masters qualification without the usurious debt of conventional university study. 

Children get into a company and are developing their career from day one. Encourage them to think of their options holistically.

Why you should focus on work experience 

By getting work experience early they can do several things very quickly.

• Confirm their interest – getting in there and understanding what the reality of the job is by speaking to the people and experiencing the environment is the best way to confirm an interest in a field. 

• Refining their interest – It may be that through experience they are better able to shape and refine what the goal is, yes it may still be law but it may be a specific type, or working in a particular area. 

• Building their network – Work experience when done well may earn you favours longer term, internships, letters of recommendation, possibly even a first job. By starting to build a professional network they are creating opportunities for their future. 

• Adding to their personal portfolio – They more they do, the more knowledgably they can discuss why they are interested in a field, they better they can articulate their hopes and demonstrate their commitment, all of which helps on an application, a CV or a personal statement. 

• Refutes their interest – Potentially disappointing to have to go back to the drawing board, but work experience can serve as a useful lesson about what they don’t want to do, frustrating perhaps but so much better to learn this early before they invest time and money into something that just isn’t right. 

Edd Williams is the careers and academic consultant behind and the author of the book ‘Is your school lying to you? Get the career you want. Get the life you deserve,’ available now via Amazon or Ortus Press at £11.99

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