HELP: What Career Advice Would You Give to a Middle School Student?

shanzhai-rmb-middle-school-student-shows-off-fake-moneyQuick question:

Oh great and wise blog visitor!

Calling on all the wisdom of age and experience you have gathered in your life until this point… if you suddenly found yourself in middle-school today (12-15yrs old)…

…what one or two things would you want someone to inspire you about concerning your future career?

I will be speaking this Friday at a local middle school on this topic.

What would you want to be inspired with if you were listening?

Bueller?

Bueller?

Please leave a comment, below. Please also consider retweeting or sharing this on Facebook with the following shortlink or text below: http://bit.ly/g7bptc !Β  I will be sharing some of your advice (if it’s worthwhile) with the students this Friday morning.

@robertmerrill HELP: What career advice would you give a middle-school student? Please share + comment http://bit.ly/g7bptc

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35 thoughts on “HELP: What Career Advice Would You Give to a Middle School Student?

  1. I’d tell them 2 things: learn how to build technology. Learn to program, code, etc. So you understand how the magic happens on things like iPad, and so you never become irrelevant. And learn Chinese. Seriously on that last point, China will be the emerging world power when these kids are 35-45.

    1. @jeremyhanks this is great. I agree… Don’t be mystified by things, MAKE things. Plus, communication is the key–in Chinese, too! I will absolutely be sharing this with advice them. Thank you

  2. I’d tell them 2 things: learn how to build technology. Learn to program, code, etc. So you understand how the magic happens on things like iPad, and so you never become irrelevant. And learn Chinese. Seriously on that last point, China will be the emerging world power when these kids are 35-45.

    1. @jeremyhanks this is great. I agree… Don’t be mystified by things, MAKE things. Plus, communication is the key–in Chinese, too! I will absolutely be sharing this with advice them. Thank you

  3. My advice would be: n1) Seek out a mentor who isn’t your parents. Find someone like a wise uncle or aunt who can give you unbiased opinions. Parents love you, but don’t know everything about careers.n2) Don’t focus on money. Money will come if you follow what your heart tells you to do.n3) Be careful about what posting on social media – especially Facebook. That puclic history will come back to haunt you… nnI could probably come up with more. But those are the most pressing on my mind. Lucky middle school kids! πŸ™‚

  4. My advice would be:
    1) Seek out a mentor who isn’t your parents. Find someone like a wise uncle or aunt who can give you unbiased opinions. Parents love you, but don’t know everything about careers.
    2) Don’t focus on money. Money will come if you follow what your heart tells you to do.
    3) Be careful about what posting on social media – especially Facebook. That puclic history will come back to haunt you…

    I could probably come up with more. But those are the most pressing on my mind. Lucky middle school kids! πŸ™‚

  5. I would tell them to start a business while in school… start lots of businesses. Become empowered by realizing they control their financial future. Imagine a kid in middle school having a safe place to start a business (no home bills, etc.), and the ability to fail and try again… how much further ahead they would be than someone who wants to start a business after college…

    1. “…. start a business while in school… start lots of businesses…” notrnonly is great advice, it looks like my resume πŸ™‚ excellent, real valuablerntips, Jason. Thank you!

      1. Good thought @maximusimpact. I’ve owned 4 totally different business in the last 10yrs and I can directly attribute any personal career success to the blood, sweat & tears I put in learning things the “hard” way… which really is the most-rewarding way! nnThanks for sharing!

  6. I would tell them to start a business while in school… start lots of businesses. Become empowered by realizing they control their financial future. Imagine a kid in middle school having a safe place to start a business (no home bills, etc.), and the ability to fail and try again… how much further ahead they would be than someone who wants to start a business after college…

    1. “…. start a business while in school… start lots of businesses…” not
      only is great advice, it looks like my resume πŸ™‚ excellent, real valuable
      tips, Jason. Thank you!

      1. Good thought @maximusimpact. I’ve owned 4 totally different business in the last 10yrs and I can directly attribute any personal career success to the blood, sweat & tears I put in learning things the “hard” way… which really is the most-rewarding way!

        Thanks for sharing!

  7. I remember when I started my first day at Unisys… I was just 18 years old. We went up that day to work on a broken monitor. The person training me told me to pull the back off of the monitor. Right there on the back was a sticker that stated “Only to be opened by qualified repair person” or something similar.nnWhen I pointed this out in distress to my mentor, he chuckled and replied “Ya, that’s us.” I didn’t know anything about fixing monitors. But I pulled the screws, and we fixed it. nnThat lesson has stuck with me in life. I have fixed several dryers myself just because I had the guts to pull the screws on the back and look inside. nnPeople need to learn that there is no black magic to doing things. there isn’t some skill everyone else had, or secret that everyone else knows. Just have the guts to start trying. Don’t wait for someone else to show you or to figure it out for you. You have the internet… You can find info on how to do pretty much anything. Want to sell stuff on your own web site? Do it. don’t whine about not knowing how to build sites. Put one foot in front of the other and just do it.nnI think that this ties in to the idea of being an entrepreneur. Kids think they just need to take a job. I think it is important that they understand that they can do things too. They need to be curious about how business works, and realize that they can pull the screws on that monitor case as well.

    1. I completely agree! Just be proactive, and try as many different things as you can. Growing up I felt like I had to just take a job and do what was expected (which I still struggle with at times) but that’s truly not the case, and the more things I’ve tried the more I’ve realized that. Really you can do anything!

  8. I remember when I started my first day at Unisys… I was just 18 years old. We went up that day to work on a broken monitor. The person training me told me to pull the back off of the monitor. Right there on the back was a sticker that stated “Only to be opened by qualified repair person” or something similar.

    When I pointed this out in distress to my mentor, he chuckled and replied “Ya, that’s us.” I didn’t know anything about fixing monitors. But I pulled the screws, and we fixed it.

    That lesson has stuck with me in life. I have fixed several dryers myself just because I had the guts to pull the screws on the back and look inside.

    People need to learn that there is no black magic to doing things. there isn’t some skill everyone else had, or secret that everyone else knows. Just have the guts to start trying. Don’t wait for someone else to show you or to figure it out for you. You have the internet… You can find info on how to do pretty much anything. Want to sell stuff on your own web site? Do it. don’t whine about not knowing how to build sites. Put one foot in front of the other and just do it.

    I think that this ties in to the idea of being an entrepreneur. Kids think they just need to take a job. I think it is important that they understand that they can do things too. They need to be curious about how business works, and realize that they can pull the screws on that monitor case as well.

    1. I completely agree! Just be proactive, and try as many different things as you can. Growing up I felt like I had to just take a job and do what was expected (which I still struggle with at times) but that’s truly not the case, and the more things I’ve tried the more I’ve realized that. Really you can do anything!

  9. I agree with Jennifer about seeking out a mentor. This is a huge idea for anybody, BTW. I also agree with Jeremy about learning Chinese (or Hindi or Kashmiri).nnIt should be understood that careers evolving so although you may specialize, you should never close the door on learning anything someone will teach you.

  10. I agree with Jennifer about seeking out a mentor. This is a huge idea for anybody, BTW. I also agree with Jeremy about learning Chinese (or Hindi or Kashmiri).

    It should be understood that careers evolving so although you may specialize, you should never close the door on learning anything someone will teach you.

  11. More than anything, be your own person. And after that, do what’s most important to you and take the steps you need to be the best person you can be. A small decision that involves doing whatever your friends are doing can largely change your life in the future more than you may realize. Also, as stated above, watch carefully what you post on facebook and twitter. Sometimes the goofy things we do with our friends don’t shine a good light on us, and when others see that on facebook, they may not necessarily find it as funny as you do. πŸ˜‰

    1. Good comment, Natalie. If it’s online, it’s searchable… and if it’srnsearchable, many potential employers can and will be using it to makernjudgments about you. Thanks for the comment!

  12. More than anything, be your own person. And after that, do what’s most important to you and take the steps you need to be the best person you can be. A small decision that involves doing whatever your friends are doing can largely change your life in the future more than you may realize. Also, as stated above, watch carefully what you post on facebook and twitter. Sometimes the goofy things we do with our friends don’t shine a good light on us, and when others see that on facebook, they may not necessarily find it as funny as you do. πŸ˜‰

    1. Good comment, Natalie. If it’s online, it’s searchable… and if it’s
      searchable, many potential employers can and will be using it to make
      judgments about you. Thanks for the comment!

  13. 1. Build a strong foundation in education. nIt is important to really learn and be proficient in the basics. Don’t do your homework just to get it done. Do your homework and study to LEARN the material. You are learning the skills that will be built upon in the future…. avoid a shaky foundation.n2. Diversify your experiences nBe involved in school, community, and the arts. Don’t be so focused on developing one area. Learn about the world around you by taking advantage of the opportunities presented to you. Being well rounded will increase your understanding of the world, help you have deeper thinking and analytical skills.n

    1. Good feedback, Deserae. Thanks. I like the part about diversifyingrnexperiences and being involved. You never know what you will like and whatrnyou don’t until you try them.rnrnI used to work in the temp-staffing world and many, many people got not onlyrna new start in a new career direction by first being a “temp” but they gotrnto try a lot of things in a short period of time (plus less politics becausernyou’re not there long enough). Often, someone would realize they had naturalrnskills and talent plus knowledge or abilities that really “clicked” in arncertain line of work and they made the full switch into that field!

  14. 1. Build a strong foundation in education.
    It is important to really learn and be proficient in the basics. Don’t do your homework just to get it done. Do your homework and study to LEARN the material. You are learning the skills that will be built upon in the future…. avoid a shaky foundation.
    2. Diversify your experiences
    Be involved in school, community, and the arts. Don’t be so focused on developing one area. Learn about the world around you by taking advantage of the opportunities presented to you. Being well rounded will increase your understanding of the world, help you have deeper thinking and analytical skills.

    1. Good feedback, Deserae. Thanks. I like the part about diversifying
      experiences and being involved. You never know what you will like and what
      you don’t until you try them.

      I used to work in the temp-staffing world and many, many people got not only
      a new start in a new career direction by first being a “temp” but they got
      to try a lot of things in a short period of time (plus less politics because
      you’re not there long enough). Often, someone would realize they had natural
      skills and talent plus knowledge or abilities that really “clicked” in a
      certain line of work and they made the full switch into that field!

  15. Some great advice given here.. nnMy son is 9 years old and we just started this conversation with him. My Thoughtsnn1. Education – Regardless of working for yourself or for someone else.. education is always important and can NEVER be taken away from you. nn2. Start your own Business – Working for yourself, a 12 year olds lawn cutting business can be the next multi million dollar landscape company. I developed so many important social and business skills from my earliest work.nn3. Be Coachable – The days of working for one company for a career are rare… Never let your skills get stale.. I have seen far too many people who relax their way out of a job

  16. Some great advice given here..

    My son is 9 years old and we just started this conversation with him. My Thoughts

    1. Education – Regardless of working for yourself or for someone else.. education is always important and can NEVER be taken away from you.

    2. Start your own Business – Working for yourself, a 12 year olds lawn cutting business can be the next multi million dollar landscape company. I developed so many important social and business skills from my earliest work.

    3. Be Coachable – The days of working for one company for a career are rare… Never let your skills get stale.. I have seen far too many people who relax their way out of a job

  17. thanks for the comments – this has been fun to follow.nnI honestly can’t say I agree with the other advice to follow your passion, learn chinese, learn to program, etc. nnWith no disrespect to Jeremy or Jennifer or others who have shared their ideas, I think it sounds too cliche or overwhelming for this audience…nnThey’re always told to follow their dreams, but what does that mean? 60 hours of video games a week, because they love it so much? nnRegarding Chinese, I learned the other really important foreign language (Spanish). While I love Spanish, and use it every once in a while, I can’t say it has had a significant impact on my career, job security, etc. nnRegarding programming, I am a programmer, or I was. I was okay, back in the day… I did some fun and cool stuff. But the world of development has changed enough that I really am not a web programmer anymore. Knowing what I know has been awesome so I can talk shop with my dev team, for sure, and it has been a huge, major benefit just understanding this stuff, but if I didn’t know the back end I’d just tap into people who did, or only work with programmers I could trust. nnOkay, maybe programming is a really awesome skill, at least to have the basics, but I’m not sure I’d have that be one of my handful of tips.nnI still go back to starting your own business … no matter what it is… and learning all the stuff you’ll learn as you move forward. nnEven if you work for someone else doing the same stuff you won’t get the same experience – when it is YOURS you have a sense of pride and go to great lengths to ensure your brand is strong, and you deliver what you say. nnMaybe the essence of this advice is to be the person who is completely responsible for the success of failure of what you are doing… ah, the lessons just waiting to be learned in that scenario!

  18. thanks for the comments – this has been fun to follow.

    I honestly can’t say I agree with the other advice to follow your passion, learn chinese, learn to program, etc.

    With no disrespect to Jeremy or Jennifer or others who have shared their ideas, I think it sounds too cliche or overwhelming for this audience…

    They’re always told to follow their dreams, but what does that mean? 60 hours of video games a week, because they love it so much?

    Regarding Chinese, I learned the other really important foreign language (Spanish). While I love Spanish, and use it every once in a while, I can’t say it has had a significant impact on my career, job security, etc.

    Regarding programming, I am a programmer, or I was. I was okay, back in the day… I did some fun and cool stuff. But the world of development has changed enough that I really am not a web programmer anymore. Knowing what I know has been awesome so I can talk shop with my dev team, for sure, and it has been a huge, major benefit just understanding this stuff, but if I didn’t know the back end I’d just tap into people who did, or only work with programmers I could trust.

    Okay, maybe programming is a really awesome skill, at least to have the basics, but I’m not sure I’d have that be one of my handful of tips.

    I still go back to starting your own business … no matter what it is… and learning all the stuff you’ll learn as you move forward.

    Even if you work for someone else doing the same stuff you won’t get the same experience – when it is YOURS you have a sense of pride and go to great lengths to ensure your brand is strong, and you deliver what you say.

    Maybe the essence of this advice is to be the person who is completely responsible for the success of failure of what you are doing… ah, the lessons just waiting to be learned in that scenario!

  19. I probably have a different perspective than most. I spent 30 of my 33 working years in high tech. I spent 2+ years (2004-2006) teaching high school math in an inner city high school. Middle school is when kids decide to drop out. They may not drop out until high school but the decision is made in 6th or 7th grades by stop working. The key is mentors. It is finding someone you look up to and inspires you to want to graduate from high school and then on to college.

  20. I probably have a different perspective than most. I spent 30 of my 33 working years in high tech. I spent 2+ years (2004-2006) teaching high school math in an inner city high school. Middle school is when kids decide to drop out. They may not drop out until high school but the decision is made in 6th or 7th grades by stop working. The key is mentors. It is finding someone you look up to and inspires you to want to graduate from high school and then on to college.

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