Blog: The pros and cons of career advice

First published in Helen Mead Chorley Citizen: Photograph of the Author by , Lancashire Telegraph columnist

MY youngest daughter wants to work in fashion retail. Buying and selling clothes, styling mannequins, window dressing... the works.

She made this important decision after spending a week with Marks & Spencer on work experience. From bra-fitting to sorting garments in the changing rooms and putting together outfits for display, she loved it, and believes that her future could lie in the business.

“The people were so nice too,” she enthused, clutching the thank-you card and gift they kindly gave her.

Work experience is a valuable tool in helping youngsters decide what career path to follow, particularly as advice given in schools is generally either non-existent or woefully inadequate.

From what I’ve heard, the service doesn’t seem to differ greatly from when I was a teenager.

Our ‘careers room’ was a converted cupboard emblazoned with posters from the armed forces. There was little hope for constructive advice if you didn’t want to be a fighter pilot or tank driver.

I remember one blink-and-you-miss-it interview in which I was told I was suited to hospitality and catering. How the advisor came to that conclusion I can only assume was linked to my weekend job as a hotel chambermaid and waitress.

It’s just as well I didn’t mention the pheasant plucking I helped out with at a local farm.

At university, a crucially important time in terms of careers, there was no advice at all, or if there was, we weren’t made aware of it.

There was something called the Milkround we kept hearing about, where companies visited colleges to recruit students, but it by-passed me and my friends.

My eldest daughter has her heart set upon becoming a doctor. Even the first step – getting a university place – is about as easy as climbing Everest without crampons.

While good careers advice is important, I don’t think it’s vital for teenagers to know exactly what they want to do.

How can you know, at such a young age, what job you will like or dislike, having never done it?

Sometimes it takes a few years to decide. After university I did a variety of jobs before settling upon journalism.

A couple of them were in catering. Contrary to that early advice, I was as suited to it as I would be to underwater welding.

Comments (7)

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11:39am Tue 25 Jun 13

Ken Shuffles says...

You've obviously excelled as a journalist and as someone who did plenty of catering and hospitality in my teenage days, I'm very proud of you. Shoot me for thinking you are a pulitzer-prize winning journalist if you must but I think teenagers need help knowing what it is that is vital for them to feel, which can also help them flourish, I believe.


Looking back to my teenage days in Mayfair as a Commis Chef I can even still remember, a moment one afternoon, when two people both wanted the exact same thing.
You've obviously excelled as a journalist and as someone who did plenty of catering and hospitality in my teenage days, I'm very proud of you. Shoot me for thinking you are a pulitzer-prize winning journalist if you must but I think teenagers need help knowing what it is that is vital for them to feel, which can also help them flourish, I believe. Looking back to my teenage days in Mayfair as a Commis Chef I can even still remember, a moment one afternoon, when two people both wanted the exact same thing. Ken Shuffles
  • Score: 1

11:52am Tue 25 Jun 13

Ken Shuffles says...

You made the right choice. You are gifted more than just words and certainly too hot for a career in underwater welding, in my opinion.
You made the right choice. You are gifted more than just words and certainly too hot for a career in underwater welding, in my opinion. Ken Shuffles
  • Score: 0

2:09pm Tue 25 Jun 13

Ken Shuffles says...

It's good to feel appreciated and it sounds like your daughter had an inspiring experience with Marks & Spencer that made her feel special and made you as a Mum feel very special too. Getting an unexpected card or a small gift for no technical reason, can often be very moving at any time. I know it can take something very special to move a person and anything timeless or anything that reminds me of anything timeless or even just a small inexpensive gift or thing perfectly packaged and most importantly, for no expected reason and out of the blue from Marks & Spencer's would do it for me so I'm sure they would have all the elegance required to move both teenagers and Mums of teenagers who need to feel moved.
It's good to feel appreciated and it sounds like your daughter had an inspiring experience with Marks & Spencer that made her feel special and made you as a Mum feel very special too. Getting an unexpected card or a small gift for no technical reason, can often be very moving at any time. I know it can take something very special to move a person and anything timeless or anything that reminds me of anything timeless or even just a small inexpensive gift or thing perfectly packaged and most importantly, for no expected reason and out of the blue from Marks & Spencer's would do it for me so I'm sure they would have all the elegance required to move both teenagers and Mums of teenagers who need to feel moved. Ken Shuffles
  • Score: 0

3:54pm Tue 25 Jun 13

Ken Shuffles says...

I suppose two people wanting the same thing at the same exact moment isn't something that could happen twice.
I suppose two people wanting the same thing at the same exact moment isn't something that could happen twice. Ken Shuffles
  • Score: 0

4:36pm Thu 27 Jun 13

Ken Shuffles says...

I must admit though, it takes a very special person to die for who can make a romantic story out of a soggy teabag and I wouldn't hurt one feeling of such a person if it took forever and a moment to prove it.
I must admit though, it takes a very special person to die for who can make a romantic story out of a soggy teabag and I wouldn't hurt one feeling of such a person if it took forever and a moment to prove it. Ken Shuffles
  • Score: 0

1:14pm Fri 28 Jun 13

Ken Shuffles says...

I've been in love with you forever and 219,000 hours. I held your hand. Unlike any other man, and gave you flowers.
I've been in love with you forever and 219,000 hours. I held your hand. Unlike any other man, and gave you flowers. Ken Shuffles
  • Score: 0

1:29pm Fri 28 Jun 13

Ken Shuffles says...

I can beg everyday from Mars, unless you think it's stretching things a bit too far.
I can beg everyday from Mars, unless you think it's stretching things a bit too far. Ken Shuffles
  • Score: 0

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