Most Career Paths Stink Now. So How Do You Steer Your Kids?

The professions that used to provide a good living are no longer so lucrative. So what will your child do when she or he grows up? Will your hopes for your child be dashed?

Most Career Paths Stink Now. So How Do You Steer Your Kids? Photo (cc) by yomanimus

A parent’s heart has to be big and endure many things, but among the most painful is seeing your young adult child thrash about, unable to find a clear path to happiness.

Jobs aren’t everything, of course, but the 20s are all about finding satisfying work that pays the bills and maybe points toward a relatively comfortable future. Sadly, the obvious paths for those things are all but gone. Every mom (and dad) wants, above all, for their kids to be happy. But that’s a pretty tall order right now.

As the new year begins, and resolutions about making a better life are made, it’s worth some examination.

Lawyer. Doctor. Pilot. Professor. A generation ago, parents might dream that their kids would end up in a prestigious, glamorous and lucrative job like one of those. Today … not so much.

I was at a conference dinner last year, surrounded by very successful people. Most had kids between 5 and 15 years old. As we rounded out our discussion about the tough, recovering, restless economy, and the trouble of finding a good town with good schools, talk turned to what these parents hoped for their kids’ future. And everyone at the table drew a big, sad blank.

These weren’t parents looking for their kids to become a doctor in the way a 1950s family wanted their kids to become a doctor. These were parents who were swapping ideas on what direction to nudge their kids so they would be fairly assured of a decent life after college. All ideas that came up were quickly tossed aside.

For starters, most of them were well-paid computer security folks, and they brushed aside the prospect of having junior follow in their footsteps. Sure, there’s plenty of money to be made, but everyone I know who works in security is trying to get out of security and feels a bit like Bob Denver from “Gilligan’s Island.” (Wait, who? Exactly. Gilligan.)

When was the last time you saw a chief security officer become CEO? Security folks are the football offensive linemen of today’s world. They only make a name for themselves when something is wrong. So, from U.S. News & World Report’s top 100 jobs, we can knock off a quarter of the top 20 prospects.


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