21st Century Career Plans

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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on May 31, 2000. All rights

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E-mail: msherwood@princetoninfo.com

The Right Job for Your Kid

Young people are often more in tune with how to get

a job than their parents, says Farida Mistry, a financial

consultant

at Edward Jones who also teaches "Helping Your Child Nab the Right

Job" at the Learning Studio on Tuesday, June 6, at 7 p.m. Call

609-688-0800. Cost: $39. "If a parent hasn’t been job hunting

in the past three years they have no idea what it’s like to search

for a job in this market," says Mistry, who has been teaching

children how to gain financial independence for the past three years.

"I encourage parents to be more like a management consultant so

that they don’t get personally involved in the job process."

One misconception parents tend to perpetuate is that employers look

negatively at applicants with frequent job changes on their resume.

In fact, diversity of experience is presently most highly-regarded.

"When I was growing up, if you moved from company to company you

were considered a bad employee because you were not showing

loyalty,"

says Mistry, "Today, if you stay in one company they say you don’t

have enough experience, you haven’t sampled what’s out there."

Traveling after college is one way young people can broaden their

range of experience, says Mistry. "The experiences you get from

traveling to a different culture can broaden your horizons so much

more than just getting your first job," says Mistry, who moved

to the U.S. from Bombay, India, to get a BA in accounting and finance

from Barnard Baruch College in 1976. "Meeting other people and

watching how the world works, how different cultures work and how

people treat each other is worth its weight in gold."

Summer internships, however, are essential to helping a child develop

direction, and Mistry encourages people to try several fields during

their years in college. "Maybe your child might want to try an

architectural firm in the first year, an accounting firm in the

second,

a law office in the third," she says. "One month in a job

will let you know, `Oh my god, I definitely don’t want to do this

for the rest of my life.’"

Starting a business — or trying self-employment — is also

a good option for someone right out of college, says Mistry. "A

job in a company isn’t the end all and be all," she says. "I

may take three to five years to set up a brand new business. Doesn’t

it make sense if you’re 21 years old and you have your parents’

backing

and you can still live at home? This is the best time to start a

business."

A strong resume will reflect a person’s versatility, but even more

importantly, resumes should be carefully tailored to specific jobs

— no more standard resume, says Mistry. Parents can help a child

best by helping him or her clarify their interests and strengths and

by providing networking opportunities through their own friends and

colleagues.

The biggest mistake parents make is imposing their own expectations

on their children, says Mistry. "Don’t dampen your child’s

enthusiasm,"

she says. "Often a parent gets too personally involved and they

don’t match skills to what’s available. The world is so different

today and the world will be so different when their children are grown

up, so just encourage them. Let them make their own mistakes. The

best thing in life is to learn from your own mistakes. It’s not

failure

— I don’t even think we should have such a word as failure. You

just learn, OK, I won’t do this again."

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21st Century Career Plans

Too many options can be overwhelming, says Susan

Guarneri, a nationally certified career counselor. "At the

turn of the century, the main occupational field in this country was

farming, so it didn’t matter what your skills were," she says.

"Now we have a multitude of options, which makes it even more

difficult. I find clients feel overwhelmed — they have so many

different ways that they can go that it’s hard for them to narrow

it down."

Along with her husband, Jack, Guarneri runs a consulting company

called

Susan Guarneri Associates at 1101 Lawrenceville Road (609-771-1669,

www.resume-magic.com), providing job search strategies, resume writing

assistance, and human resources development. She discusses career

planning for the 21st century at the next free Job Club meeting at

the Unitarian Church on Monday, June 5, at 7:30 p.m. at 50 Cherry

Hill Road (609-921-1604).

Whatever their profession, says Guarneri, people need to have a good

balance of hard skills (technical) and soft skills (communication).

"Don’t ignore the high-tech world and say `I’ve worked for 20

years and I’m not going to touch a computer,’ she says. "Change

is upon us. I don’t care who you are and what your occupation is,

computers are going to be the driving force."

Conversely, you need to be "high-touch" as well as high-tech.

Guarneri. "While many people recognize that they need to go back

to school for computer skills, they’re not doing anything to update

their soft skills — communications and interpersonal skills,"

says Guarneri.

A former wildlife researcher, Guarneri received her BA in biology

from the University of Wisconsin, Class of 1976, and took up a

solitary

job studying fish, sometimes without interacting with people for

weeks.

"While I was good at it and interested in it, I am an extrovert

— I get my energy from being around people, and fish are not

people,"

she says. "When I got to where I was talking to the fish, I knew

it was time to go." She earned her MA in counseling from Johns

Hopkins.

Although the basics to planning a career remain the same, "knowing

yourself, knowing your interests, and knowing your skills," says

Guarneri, the linchpin to getting hired in today’s economy is having

problem-solving skills. "Having the big picture ability to see

up and coming market trends before your competitors do is critical

to success," she says. "It’s not solving a problem after the

fact — it’s solving the problem ahead of the wave. It’s not

reactive,

but proactive. With the pace of change, by the time that problem is

on you, it’s past you."

Likewise, people should be forward thinking with their careers, which

means updating a resume every six months or even more often. As

Guarneri

likes to say, "If a good opportunity came knocking, would your

resume be ready?"

— Melinda Sherwood


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