Right now, my daughter wants to be anything and everything. Her creativity and imagination make her think of a new occupation almost every day. The beauty of her being six is that she dreams with no boundaries. She pins no judgment on jobs that many people wouldn’t think of as a career choice. She doesn't consider her own skill limitation when envisioning herself as a doctor, dancer or astronaut. The possibilities are endless for her — as they should be.
She will graduate college in 2032 at 21 years old with what I imagine will be the same enthusiasm she has now about making her mark on the world.
I remember that excitement and uncertainty when I graduated college and began my 15-year career within the helping profession. An industry that is predominately filled with women working for salaries that barely reach the national average.
I’m used to being silent and not bothering asking for raises or excess resources knowing all too well the politics and realities of my field. Instead, I have relished in the joy I have felt in helping others, the large amount of vacation days and the ability to be as creative as I want. I look at my daughter, as she draws yet another scenario of her dreams and aspirations, and wonder what her definition of career success will be and how she will shape her life as a professional woman.
My wish list of ways in which the landscape of the workforce can sustain her financially and fulfill her emotionally includes the below:
1. That she has a mentor. Millennials in the workforce value work-life balance and creativity differently than their predecessors, and I hope my daughter is supervised by someone who prioritizes leadership. Someone who embraces the ability to lead a team and can teach her how to become a leader.
2. That she learns how to take criticism. My daughter will grow up used to the ease of expressing how you feel over social media and watching reality shows with judges. I hope she will learn to provide feedback professionally, both verbally and in the written word. Also, she'll control her emotions when accepting feedback and respond appropriately.
3. That she has a creative outlet. However her creativity manifests by the time she is workplace ready, I hope she is able to find a position that is both an outlet for her as well as one that challenges her underdeveloped areas.
4. That she is held accountable. As a working adult, she needs to be held accountable for her good and bad actions in order to grow. Not everyone gets a gold medal. I hope her accomplishments are recognized (and possibly rewarded) and that she is encouraged to learn from her mistakes.
5.That she isn’t afraid to ask. I hope equal pay, paid family leave and the other issues facing women today are distant thoughts in another 10 years. But we still have a long way to go. Whatever our labor laws look like at that time, I am hopeful my daughter feels valued in her workplace. That she is not afraid to ask for what she deserves, in terms of compensation and recognition, and most importantly, for the support she needs to execute her job effectively to feel and be successful.
Nicole Wolfrath is mom to two feisty girls in elementary and nursery school and has worked full time as a college career counselor for the past 15 years. She holds leadership roles on her children’s school boards and PTA, loves to create art when she can find the time and is passionate about women’s and parenting issues which she advocates for through teaching and blogging.
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