How to Kick Start Meaningful Career Conversations

What do you want to do when you grow up?
Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 3.08.41 PMEvery teenager is asked this a billion times. At least that is the way they feel. They are scared about going out into the big, bad real world. The endless questions about what they will do compound the problem that they honestly don’t know. I have a solution that kids find fun.


Do not prepare for the real world!
First of all, I don’t agree with the many adults who harp on the idea that kids need to prepare for the real world. This is code for preparing for the past. The preparations that worked in the 70′s, 80′s and 90′s don’t work for Real World 2.0. The coming generations have to create new businesses, re-create old ways of business and found movements. Constant change is the new normal, so the challenge is for students to get ready for Real World 2.0.

How? They need to get P.A.I.D.
By “get,” I mean comprehend P.A.I.D. They can be taught to figure out the acronym I created and how it helps for Real World 2.0 readiness. Before we break the acronym into parts, let me explain the 16 year journey I took to get P.A.I.D. myself.

Know thyself
The interest assessments students took early in my high school career were all I had to work with at first. Then, along came higher device use and the wide world of social media. I realized one day that it was impossible to forecast the best career. Why? The careers available to a freshman student might not yet exist! Looking 8 years into the future became impossible. Therefore, I realized students had to know themselves at the core. That way, they could determine if a career or brand new creation fit. Perhaps they might even be the innovative, entrepreneurial type that would bring about something new.

P.A.I.D. focuses on the core
mayur-gala-487 (1)Now we can leap forward to how understanding P.A.I.D. helps a student get Real World 2.0 Ready and allows you to kick start a meaningful career conversation. The acronym is designed to have each letter represent one of the core aspects of any career. Even if a career does not yet exist, it is comprised of these four components.


Each letter of P.A.I.D.
The P stands for People. There is a service or people part of career. The A stands for Active. Some jobs are highly active and focus on drive. People who are highly active at the core want to make tangible things happen on a regular basis. I stands for Ideas. These are the creative types. They might give the person with drive the rough instructions on how to carry out the idea or might love the creative process. The day to day work can’t be overly structured and mechanical for an I type to thrive. D stands for Data. These are the detail-oriented people who know like to organize, research or keep accurate account of processes.

Everyone wants to get P.A.I.D.
Here is how you use P.A.I.D. to kick start a conversation when teens don’t know what to do when they grow up. The acronym is fun, so I say: “You want to get P.A.I.D. for a living, right?” They forget about the discomfort of working in the real world for a second and nod in agreement with the simple truth.

Start with the first place or last place choice
I want to capture the top interest and the lowest interest most of all. The whole process might have to happen in 5 minutes, in some cases, before I am off and running to a school meeting, or another waiting student. I ask the student whether the top choice or last choice pops to mind first. It is about 50/50 with any given student.

Find the opposite extreme
Let’s say they want D for Data in the fourth slot. The next step is to ask for the letter in the top spot. It usually takes a minute or less. A student might pick I for the top interest. At this point, the conversation can go into brainstorming a couple examples. Does Accountant fit? No, with D at the bottom, this isn’t a match. I had a student rethink his plan to be an accountant after he picked D for the bottom spot. Graphic design would get a thumbs up as a possible fit.

Turn it into a visual puzzle piece
Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 2.43.32 PMThe conversation moves along by placing the last two letters. I use a whiteboard to make the spacing of the letters visual. the A might be near the I, or down near the D. The A and P could be tied with each other right smack dab in the middle. I have students screen shot their personal P.A.I.D. puzzle piece set up.



Follow up
The meaningful conversation comes to a close. The next “job” is to continue finding the fit for their puzzle piece. Winning in the game of life and Real World 2.0 is dream realization. Screen Shot 2016-12-03 at 9.50.31 PMOnce a student knows what the P.A.I.D. puzzle piece looks like and finds the unique fit in the world, the goal is to make it happen. Helping others do this is my puzzle piece fit in the world! You are invited to get in touch to talk further about dream realization.



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