Some children are influenced by their parents’ conversations and know what they want to be when they grow up. Some make wild statements about their future from out of nowhere which miraculously come true. Others haven’t a clue as to what work means to their parents and to themselves. They announce a list of professions that leave their parents shaking their heads over what inspired their kids to think such things: A 5-year-old boy wants to be a firefighter because his dad talked about how a brave firefighter saved the family from burning. A 10-year-old girl watches the Academy Awards with her parents and wants to be a movie star. A quiet, lonely child with bizarre parents turns to making jokes as a way to shield himself from feeling his family is odd and becomes a comedian.
Children absorb far more than many parents acknowledge — both good and bad, subtle and obvious behavior. Everyone has, at one time or another, been subjected to the spoiled child (now a rude co-worker) whose parents never taught positive discipline and manners, or the child whose parents offered nothing but criticism (now the micromanager). But for all the poorly reared children who turn into the adults no one wants to work for, there are still emotionally mature and responsible kids whose parents imparted values, love and emotional support. Here is an example of how successful a child can be with loving support and acceptance of who the child wants to be.
Athina D. had a choice in high school. She applied to a vocational school program where she would spend half the school day pursuing a technical education in cosmetology. After 1500 hours of in-class education, she would be eligible to test for a license. She attended for 3 1/2 hours a day, five days a week, and over spring and summer breaks. Between junior and senior year, she spent eight hours a day, five days a week in cosmetology school. She received her license in the summer of 2017, while she was still 18. How did a young girl make such a dedicated decision while other high school students were whooping it up throughout high school?
Athina’s dad was a barber, her mom an esthetician working for the Lyric Opera, Marilyn Miglin makeup and MAC Cosmetics, and her grandmother a colorist. Athina played by cutting and coloring the hair on all her dolls. At age 7, she received a gift of a beauty salon setup for her American Girl doll. At 13 years old, she started cutting and coloring her own hair and then her friend’s hair, as well. She was fascinated with the wild and creative colors for hair, and by middle school, she was passionate about expression through personal appearance.
After talking to a high school academic counselor, she knew it would be more time-efficient and cost-effective to study the field at the same time as taking all the required high school courses. She wanted to eventually pursue a college education but didn’t know what she wanted to study at that time.
Her mom launched a hair and makeup company when Athina entered eighth grade at age 14. She introduced her daughter to learning about work by allowing her to answer emails and learn the booking system. Athina loved the responsibility of working part-time in the summer. One summer, though, Athina worked as a shampoo girl, and realized working at a salon was not for her.
She liked the creative side of beauty and helping her mom grow the business. At 18, during her senior year, she began working as an assistant stylist for weddings. Once she graduated and passed the state board exam, she became the main stylist. She has styled hair for more than 100 brides.
But she also wanted to pursue a college degree. Now, she knew herself well enough to decide on a major. “Not only did I like the business side of things, but I was also good with people, event management and company management,” she thought, so she majored in marketing.
Her parents supported her decisions at every point in her journey. Athina’s work ethic paid off. She achieved a 4.0 GPA and was also a competent hairstylist. With a realistic view of what it takes to own one’s own business, she decided she wanted to work for a large company. Since, by some estimates, the U.S. beauty and cosmetics industry made $49.2 billion in revenue for 2020, Athina will be a prime candidate for any marketing job in it.
Email career and life coach: [email protected] with your workplace problems and issues. Ms. Novak responds to all emails. For more information, visit www.lindseynovak.com, and for past columns, see https://www.creators.com/features/at-work-lindsey-novak.
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