Alvarez said he has a daughter in her second year of law school. But rather than encouraging her to become a lawyer, he has suggested that law school will help her gain a skill she can use in any profession — problem solving. He also has been brutally honest with her about the demands of the profession and its job prospects. “Law is a wonderful profession; however, it’s time consuming. You don’t have the ability to control your time in the same way you do in other professions.”
Alvarez explained to his daughter that supply and demand will dictate whether there will be jobs when she graduates and he encouraged her to have a back-up plan. “She could go into business and have the additional benefit of knowing the problem-solving skills of a lawyer.”
In coaching our kids about career paths, business ownership has become an increasingly realistic back-up plan. Last week, I attended the Women’s Success Summit in Miami. A panel of women business owners spoke about their experiences growing profitable businesses after having earlier careers. These women saw opportunity later in life and took it because they believed they could make money on their own terms using skills they acquired over decades.
Ginny Simon, founder of ginnybakes, which sells organic, gluten-free baked goods and mixes, says she would encourage an aspiring entrepreneur to get a business education. However, she says the key skill they will need in entrepreneurship is listening. Simon found a niche in the market as a holistic nutritionist when she listened to what her clients were seeking. Even without a business degree, she has landed her products on the shelves of major chains by understanding trends, staying flexible and having enough passion for her products to stay the course.
In guiding her four sons, ages 24 to 17, Simon says she advises them to think broadly about the education and skills they go after, leaving themselves leeway to be opportunistic. “I tell my sons, do not lock yourselves in too tightly. Make sure there’s room for movement in whatever field you choose.”
As a parent, I also want my daughter to have enough room in her choice to create the kind of work-life balance that allows her to earn a good paycheck without sacrificing family, health or sanity. I guess we both should be prepared for a career exploration process that may be rife with twists and turns — and opportunities.
Cindy Krischer Goodman is CEO of BalanceGal LLC, a provider of news and advice on how to balance work and life. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her columns and blog at worklifebalancingact.com.