I am just back from a 10 tour around Europe. What was great about the tour group is that there were a range of ages and cultures. It was really a wonderful experience. While on holiday I encountered a young English girl with acting aspirations. She had done some acting as a child (she is now 18) and is really looking forward to doing more. She engaged myself and a couple of other group members in a conversation about developing a career and success etc. She was very open, unafraid to ask questions and was genuinely interested in any advice she could get to help her along. I found myself enjoying the interaction and I reflected on it later with regard to my contributions to the profession.
I think anyone who has had even minimal success should want to give a little back. We’ve all had helping hands coming up and I think it is important for future generations to have the same. The young woman I mentioned was really keen to see through her career aspirations. We, myself and the other tour members, we really encouraging and encouraged her to push past her doubts to really get what she wants. As professionals I think, even in a small way, we should be having these conversations with young people. Even if they are in a different profession, I think general careers advice or even knowledge from personal experience can help others. I have done some informal mentoring in the past, on a small scale, but I have found it rewarding. I think it is especially helpful in Social Work.
We graduate with very idealistic hopes and I think this could be tempered with a bit of realism without sounding cynical and negative. I think fresh minds and fresh faces need a splash of reality just so they can carve a way out for themselves. They see what others around them are doing. They have a theoretical framework from which to base their hypotheses and assessments. They can do it. I think it is a bit irresponsible not to give them a real view of the world, but at the same time we don’t want to crush their hopes of being able to facilitate positive change in the lives of those with whom they work.
Lend a hand to a young person who is serious about have a career and not just a job. If they ask tell them. Be realistic but hopeful and you give them something they can carry with them throughout their professional lives.