"don't be afraid to reach out and ask questions."
As part of the Teenacers’ series on how young professionals and young adults can help teens, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ayden Howard. Ayden Howard is a twenty four year old early childhood educator. Though she works mainly with children ages 5-6, she has been in the work force since she was a teenager. She understands the uncertainties young adults face while entering the workforce, and has some advice on how to make the transition more comfortable!
From your experience, what would you say are the top 3 challenges teens or young adults face today when they enter the workforce? Can you articulate this from your industry’s / field’s perspective?
Obviously as a student, you are responsible for things like showing up and handing in your homework on time. When you enter the workforce, you become responsible for more than just yourself. You are now, in most cases, working as a team to achieve a common goal. Many people leave school to enter a job thinking it will be just like school, and they don’t realize there is much more to it. For example, I am now responsible for the well-being of multiple children at one time and the amount of responsibility I have now, compared to school, is astronomically different.
I was often judged by my appearance and assumed to be unprofessional because I was young with tattoos and piercings. I find that this was more of a challenge when looking for jobs in high school. Seeing that more working professionals have tattoos and piercings, quite a few places are more accepting, but I still make sure to cover all visible tattoos until my employer gets to know me as a worker.
When you are in university, many individuals will take out loans in order to help cover the costs of classes and living. Once you are out of school and begin working, you have to think about how to manage all your bills and debts. Many of my friends have spent a lot of time in school, learning how to be a student, but they were never taught about how to responsibly manage everything once they were out.
As part of the adolescent coaching empowering resilient success (ACERS) series, we are interviewing experts, like yourself, in order to help leaders, teachers, parents, teens, and young adults by sharing our expertise. As an expert in your field, how would you articulate some strategies your employers used in their practice, or organization, to helped you feel empowered, build resilience, and experience success? Essentially, how were you coached?
In my field of work, my employers help me to feel empowered by nurturing an authentic workplace and ensuring we all have a voice. It is set up so all educational professionals in my workplace can network and share their tips and tricks and we are all constantly growing as educators. Keeping an open mind about new ideas and opportunities have helped me to reach my full potential as an educator and learn all the many ways that children learn and put those into practice.
As a young leader, how would you define leadership, as you have come to understand this term in your field, and why do you think it is important for teens and young adults to develop these characteristics and attributes before they enter the workforce?
Leadership can be defined as being able to work independently, but also work as the head of the group when needed. Being able to speak on behalf of others while maintaining order and keeping the group focused on the task at hand. Organizational skills and public speaking skills can help tremendously with being an apt leader. It’s important to develop those skills as they can give teens and young adults better opportunities in the future with employers who would see leadership skills as very valuable. It helps them feel empowered and in better control of their work life as opposed to only being “a team player.”
Considering your experience and field of work, what do you think would make the most impact on teens and young adults before they enter the workforce to help them experience success? What skills and attributes would be the most beneficial when they enter the workforce?
Looking back at my high school experience (because I'm not sure what's in place now), they need to take that "C.A.L.M" class and be teaching more practical subjects, for e.g., what you need in order to qualify for college/university courses, how to do taxes, what you should think about before getting your first credit card, RRSPs and saving your money, more on building your resumes, how to improve them and interview coaching. Something more should also be taught about what you'll need to know when you move out on your own (how to rent, what to be aware of), and lastly, things like how to cook/do laundry might also be beneficial to some people who might not have someone there to teach them. For people who go right into the workforce out of high school, I think it would be important for them to know what their rights are as employees so that they aren't taken advantage of.
What 3 tips could you offer teens and young adults as they prepare to make a successful transition from mainstream education into the “real world”?
1. Don't be afraid to reach out for help and ask questions.
2. Explore all of your options and pick the one that's best for you, not for someone else.
3. Stop procrastinating and do it!
I love playing Hi-5 with our guests! Can you please share with us your first thoughts on the ACERS acronym? What do each of these mean to you or what final statements or piece of advice can you leave us with?
A young person.
Teaching someone how to better
themselves or learn a new skill.
Making someone feel more confident.
Being able to overcome obstacles.
Achieving your goals.
My final piece of advice would be:
Don’t go into a job just for the money - go into a job you are passionate about and it will never feel like work.
Also, try not to sweat the small stuff, do your best and always be kind to yourself and others.
Thank you, Ayden, for these fantastic insights.
We wish you only continued success in your great work!