At what age should career development start?

JP Michel

At what age should career development start?

This is the question I get asked the most by counselors, teachers and parents.  

The answer? 4 years old.

Before we determine the appropriate age, we need to acknowledge the following: 

Career development is already happening, at all ages. 

On their own, children gain experiences, develop interests and grow skills. They create stories about who they are and who they want to become.

This is career development, and it’s already happening. 

What we are really asking when we ask “what age” is ‘what age should we intervene to help in the career development process?’ 

The answer: As soon as formal education begins.
Even at 4 years old, there are several career related topics that students can start exploring:
-Why are we in school? #purpose 
-What are we doing here? #learning #skills #knowledge #experiences
-What is important in life? #values

Career development for kids is not about matching students to a job title, for the rest of their lives. Rather, it’s starting a conversation about values, purpose and learning. 

When students start the career development process early, they are more engaged in their education, and much better equipped to create their future. 

The only group that doesn’t ask "At what age should we start"? Career advisors working at the postsecondary level. They don’t ask at what age career development should start - they just wish students had started a long before meeting them.  

Surprised or disagree with starting early? 

Comment below and follow me to see my next post, which will describe what key career messages students should learn at different stages. 


Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

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