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Blog: The pros and cons of career advice
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.
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