The men-children recently completed work experience as part of their school curriculum. In Year 10, they set aside a week for all the boys to complete a week “working” – for some their first real taste of life outside school in an adult working environment.
Not surprisingly, the experiences were as varied as the 250 boys in the year level, ranging from a week spent with the Melbourne Rebels (cool) to a week spent at the Melbourne Zoo (also cool). Even our boys selected very diverse options. One spent the week with a sports management company (largely office based as it turned out), and one spent the week with a builder (largely outdoor based naturally).
I think each of the boys learned a lot about working, and the ups and/or downs of the particular companies they worked for. The man-child who elected for the sports management job probably thought it would be a lot more glamorous than it was. He did get one outing at an AFL football club, but the rest of the time was largely spent talking with staff to understand their jobs (basically project management), or helping the girls in the office with the database (the alternative to “filing”). As I explained to him when he told me about having to spend a few hours “cutting and pasting” one day: “I also have to do shit like that, and I’m paid a lot more than $10 a day”. Everyone has grunt stuff to do as part of their job, so for me it was a great lesson about starting at the bottom, and being prepared to roll your sleeves up and get your hands dirty. I was also at pains to point out that it really is quite difficult to find a meaningful job for someone on work experience for a week, and that he could rest assured when he gets a real job there will be set tasks for him to do and he’ll feel a sense of purpose.
I agreed to drop him off one day and we were chatting about what he’d learned. He mentioned a discussion by management about the cost for “the cloud”, and then quickly asked me – BTW, what exactly is “the cloud”? Firstly a very good marketing term, but basically just a bunch of servers where you store all your stuff and pay someone else to worry about its retention, security, retrieval etc. I was glad he asked, as that’s exactly how you learn. I also had to laugh the day he rang me from the supermarket to tell me he’d been sent down to buy chips and dips for Friday night drinks (a VERY important job) and to ask me which dips he should choose! I said you can’t go wrong with Hummus and Tzatziki (and quietly delighted in the fact that he had called his mother to ask). 🙂
In complete contrast to his office-bound brother, our other man-child went off “labouring” with a builder friend. His turned out to be a great experience, with opportunities to work with multiple “tradies” during the week, coupled with the chance to drive a quad bike and a ute on the large property they were working at. Teenage heaven! He also spent a few nights out at the property, and I think really enjoyed the manual work (although he was pretty stuffed by it). Of course it’s much easier to give someone stuff to carry, dig, cart, etc in this environment, so I have no doubt he felt very “useful” compared to his brother. However I did also point out to our “labourer” that it wasn’t quite as glamorous as he might think. I said the “chippies” do the same thing day in, day out. They don’t get to be a landscaper one day and a carpenter the next. It’s 365 days a year of hammering timber.
He was also very fortunate to be given advice by said builder about his future career choices. I was thrilled to learn this and hope our son takes on board the wise counsel of our friend. He’s very lucky to have someone who cares enough to help.
Post work experience, we learned that next term the boys need to make subject choices for Year 11 (and ultimately Year 12). WHAT!! Naturally our thoughts and discussions turned to the challenge this presents, and how hard it is to guide our children in a world that moves so fast, and is a long way from our school leaving some 30 odd years ago. As someone said, the jobs they may have when they’re 20 probably don’t even exist yet. And we know they may well have 3 or 4 different career paths in their lifetime. So we jumped at the chance for any guidance that “experts” can provide our sons and us during this decision process. We want to be sure they make the best possible choices for themselves, with the knowledge of all the opportunities that are available to them. And the objectivity that a 3rd party provides when they think their parents don’t know anything can’t hurt either!!!
So hands up who is doing now what they started when they left school? Have you changed careers, by choice, or by circumstance? Did you end up doing what you said you wanted to do when you were younger (doctor, nurse, vet)? Or do you have any tips for us or the boys? I’d love to hear from you.
PS. We just endured another round of Parent-Teacher interviews. It can be a trying experience, especially with one of the men-children. The Joys (or not) of Parent-Teacher Interviews.