Who needs career advice when they have their exam grades to go by? And – let’s face it – most careers advice gets as far as this:

What do you want to do?

Ummm… dunno

Well, what did you get your best grades in?

Geography

Okay, well here is a list of colleges offering training as a Geography teacher…

To be fair, anyone attempting a conversation with a teenager (yes, you) needs a fallback question. After 10 or 20 minutes of asking “what do you want” and receiving a mumble in reply, us ancient ones need somewhere else to go. It is just that “what did you get your best grades in” is a very dangerous alternative. Why do I say that?

Simple. I’ve had people in their 30’s, 40’s and even 50’s telling how much they hate their job, and how they have never liked it and now they can’t face another day… and when I probe, it all goes back to the fact that a teacher said something to their father around how well they had done in Maths / English / Biology, and… so their course was set for the next several decades.

Don’t get me wrong. Some people get brilliant Maths Grades because THEY LOVE the abstract thought involved in Maths. Take the irrational numbers and n-dimensional multiverses out of their lives and they will wilt. Others get brilliant Maths Grades because they love manipulating numbers. So that’s our future Physicists and Accountants taken care of. But what about the person who gets brilliant Maths grades because… their brain is wired that way OR they find it easy OR their IQ is way higher than the average bear OR they are diligent and hard-working…BUT – they don’t actually find Maths all that engaging. If they (or their parents or career advisor) use their Maths score to determine their future course, then they have just rewarded IQ / hard work / whatever with the opportunity to spend 40 years doing something they can do but don’t like.

I had a friend who was a national junior swimming champ. I worked with him on a road gang a couple of years after we left school (by the way, that was a road gang, not a chain gang). “How come you aren’t swimming any more?” I asked. “One morning I just woke up and realised I didn’t want to watch the black line on the bottom of the pool any more.” He could swim like a dolphin – but he didn’t actually enjoy it; not if it meant ploughing up and down a cold pool at 6am day in and day out.

So, to boil this all down into one syrupy lump: do what you love enough to do, not what you can do but will never love.

Now there is a reason why “what did you get your best grades in?” tends to be the old faithful fall-back question: it looks for some objective data. We asked you what you wanted – a kind of subjective question – and you didn’t know what to say. So we ask you an objective question – what was your best grade – and we get an answer, even from you, teenage person. All hail the objective data.

Now I am all for objective data. That is why we built hoozyu as a programme: so that you, not to mention every career advisor and parent, would have some objective data to work from that ISN’T THE WRONG DATA (and the wrong question). Let’s rerun the conversation:

What do you want to do?

Ummm… dunno (stare at ceiling)

Well, what were your top Areas of Interest on the hoozyu Report?

Outdoor, Clerical and Social Service

Wow, that’s an interesting mix. Let’s unpack those one at a time and then think about how we might put together a menu of options for you to think about…

Way to go, as we used to say, back in those road gang days…