“My parents want me to be a [insert career], but I want to be a [insert career]”.

When senior high school begins, it’s the time when you probably have your first proper think about your future. You begin to choose your HSC subjects, which leads onto consideration of tertiary study options, which eventually leads onto future employment options.

This also means it’s time when your career aspirations may clash with those of your parents, so how to talk to your parents about your dream career?.

They might want you to do more Maths units to supplement your future endeavours in Actuarial Studies, but you want to drop more Maths units for 4 Unit English to grow as the prolific writer you were destined to be.

Whatever the quandary, there will come a time for a discussion. And regardless of how much you dread it…

It is important for you to talk it out with your parents.

I’ve compiled a short list of topics that you could bring to the table, because I’ve found that these are the main areas of misunderstanding between students and parents when it comes to career planning. Consider it a ‘parent and student career clash trouble-shooting guide’ if you will!

Emphasise Your Passions

Outline what you want to do.

But I not like “I kind of like music-ish I guess…” or something equally uninspiring. I mean useful, solid examples of what you enjoy doing, and how that relates to your career aspirations. What exactly do you like about them? Write it down, and make it real. For example, maybe you want to become a primary school teacher because you enjoy spreading knowledge, and can relate to children.

I say to do this because some of the time, even your parents aren’t clear on your personal perspective because you’ve never actually defined it for them.

Even though they’re your parents, they don’t know everything about you, so how can you come to a career decision together if your point of view hasn’t been properly voiced?

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Outline Your Parent’s Wishes

Just as you’ve defined what you want…

It is essential your parents are clear on what they want from you.

It’s so easy to not listen because you don’t want to hear it – but if you want your parents to respect your wishes, you have to respect theirs by at least hearing them out.

Perhaps you’ll find that their path for you isn’t so bad, and worth considering. Or maybe that it’s not right for you – in which case, you have a good reason to object to it.

Protip: Discussing the exact details of what your parents think can be conducive to open communication!

What Other Opportunities Do You Have?

Setting out the opportunities for your development are crucial. Now that you’ve voiced your perspective, and your parents, what other viable opportunities remain?

Because of the complexity of careers, it can be beneficial to explore all the possible avenues, as you and your parents may have ruled out some possibilities.

Just remember, a lot of careers which we have now didn’t exist when your parents were going into the workforce!

Be Ready to Compromise

In most cases, there may be more than one way to get to your career of choice, or your parents career of choice for you.

Do they overlap? Are they similar? Could your pursue both at the same time?

It’s time to brainstorm how you could possibly work the two together.

If this is not possible, how about compromise? Now that both sides have clarified their perspective, has some of what your parent said been persuasive to you? Or have your parents been convinced of the merits of your plan?

Know That Career Paths Aren’t Set in Stone

At the end of the day, whatever decision you come to doesn’t necessarily determine your life.

You would be surprised at how many people take a 180 degree turn halfway through one degree or at the end of one, and end up pursuing a path that was completely different. Or you’ll find that your parents path is beneficial to what you want to do.

If you ask any adult, it’s rare they’ll say they had one plan in mind and followed it to the end, and that it’s actually more a path of discovery.

Overall, it’s good to keep flexible and adaptable, so with whatever career path you choose, you’ll find some facet that you love.

Just in case you need some questions to help start your discussion, here are some with which to start off the conversation!

  • How can I balance passion with practicality?
  • What do you consider a balance of passion and practicality?
  • How did you choose your career path?
  • Are you happy in your career path?
  • How did you get there? What are some unexpected turns you took to get there?
  • How far ahead did you plan for your career?
  • What can I expect from a career in [career]?

Sophia Zou recently completed the HSC in 2013, so fortunately for AOS Community Blog-readers and perhaps less fortunately for her, the memories of Year 12 are still fresh in her head. Sophia considers it her mission here to help students make the most of their final years at high school. Her interests include political science, Simon and Garfunkel, and pretending to be a tea aficionado. Alongside tutoring at Art of Smart Education, she spends her time playing the piano and studying Government & IR and Languages at the University of Sydney.