"I want her to have the confidence to fail"

When you work with businesses or in businesses you start to hear a whole load of terms that you don’t really get. People start to talk about “Thought Leadership” “Deliverables” “success criteria” – I mean a lot of it is totally self-explanatory “success criteria” a good example of one that I sincerely hope you all understand.

One of the most used ones is “stakeholder” – I guess it’s pretty self-explanatory because it means someone who “holds” a “stake” in whatever it is you’re talking about.

It got me thinking, who are a graduate’s stakeholders? This blog, and many more to come will be about who they are, what they think and (perhaps) how to manage them.

Today I speak to probably the “number one stakeholder” in a graduate’s life.

So, ladies and gentlemen, even though I OBVIOUSLY don’t share who exactly this is, let’s all thank the wonderful Violet (fake name) for talking so openly about what it’s like to be the parent (in this case Mum) of a graduate graduating this year.

What is your Daughter studying?

Ancient History

What career does this degree naturally point to? Or put differently what is the obvious career choice for her?

There isn’t something incredibly obvious but I felt that it was a rounded course that offers lots of the things that she was looking for. We both thought there were lots of transferable skills – analytical thinking for example. It also gives a good context for contemporary society which I think helps to develop a useful sense of perspective

What do you feel about the opportunities that have been presented to her so far? Are you excited by the opportunities she is exploring?

By the time I left the commercial/business world I was managing 5 health clubs, every receptionist in every health club was earning 14k per year and every single one of them was a graduate that had settled for these roles as they couldn’t find anything else. I don’t believe that things have changed so much.

In your opinion do you feel that her university has given her good/useful career advice?

I asked my daughter this recently and as far as she’s concerned she has never had any career advice of any sort. She says she might have had some sort of conversation with one of her lecturers once. On the university website there is careers page and a contact number but she never called it.

As her parent what role do you feel you can/should/will play in her first career related decision?

When we first spoke about this it reminded me of something I read a long time ago. Which was never listen to your parent’s career advise because there from a different generation.

I think it’s important to let your child make their own mistakes, I think the more you specify what they should do in some ways the less they are likely to learn.

Do you worry about her future? Anything specific that worries you?

Nothing specific, but in a general sort of way things like setting up an ISA, her savings, etc

But more than that I want her to enjoy what she does, Work goes on for a VERY long time, much longer than education and if you can’t be passionate about what you’re doing you have to be interested and get satisfaction from, enjoying what you’re doing is so

You don’t regret the things you do in life, you regret the things you don’t.

Is ambition something that you want to see in your daughter

I think that in general millennials are more career focussed, more keen to achieve, more driven than generations gone by. One of the biggest things that I don’t have that I want my daughter to have is the confidence to fail.

In the companies I worked in you didn’t try that bit harder or take that risk because you might fail, I want her to feel like she can, obviously for her to pick herself up after that.

Do you feel that she’s ready (emotionally, psychologically) to start her career?

Yes I do. She’s very confident in her abilities, has a clear work ethic she’s ready to change the world! It’ll be interesting…

In your opinion how do you think she’s changed and developed over her time at university?

The basic changes you’d expect from living away from home, having to learn to look after yourself etc.

It’s been great to watch her to make an amazing group of friends. She went to a very good school, was always very intense about having to achieve highly. I think going away, living with likeminded people has helped with that and she’s grown into herself and who she wants to be.

What’s the most important piece of advice you’ve been given?

I think that it was less of a piece of advice and more a way I grew up.

It’s that you KNOW you’ve done your best, doesn’t matter if people think you’ve done your best, but inside you KNOW that you’ve really done your best.

If you could give graduates one piece of advice as they approach the beginnings of their career’s what would it be?

 I don’t know if this is the best quote – but “if you reach for the moon and miss, you’ll still land in the stars”


So what do we take from this? Well, hard to say really, Violet is a really lovely, warm, open, generous and honest person. I loved talking to her. I think one of the things that struck me most is that parents are living this stuff. They’re not caring about you because they have to, they are caring about you because they really care about you!

I’d also say that whilst they may be you parents and therefore you’re pre-programmed to push against them, they actually totally appreciate how hard this point is in your life. From my experience of talking to Violet she doesn’t pretend to have all the answers, she doesn’t think she knows what’s right for her daughter, but she cares greatly about her and would do whatever she could to help he make decisions that are ‘right’.

There’s definitely something in this whole subject of “career’s advice” – my gut feel on this is that there are some good people doing some good things in Universities (I’ve spoken to a lot of them). The difficulty comes from how quickly this career world of ours is changing..

More on Career’s advice to come FOR SURE but also this idea of “graduate stakeholders” could easily become a theme!

Just think of it- last week we concluded 2 part blogs – an now we’re starting THEMES!

Have lovely – LONG – weekends!