College Is Not Always The Answer
In writing my blog, “Who Defines Success,” I thought of a conversation I had with Jackie Greenbaum, a mother of three now grown men. Her story really illustrates the wisdom of letting your children define success for themselves. Jackie is a loving and supportive mother who knew she needed to get out of the way and let each of her boys’ find their own individual and unique career successes.
Jackie earned a degree in Education and taught before she stayed home to raise her three boys. Upon returning to work she attended school to become a Legal Secretary. She eventually received her Paralegal Certificate and an HR Certificate from UCI. She is currently the Client Relations Manager at Fisher-Phillips LLP.
Her boys’ father is a CPA and their step-dad, who helped raise them, is an attorney. Obviously, this family values education!
What are your three boys doing now?
My Oldest Son has his own business after working at various jobs including car salesman. He did not like working as an employee. During his early years we always called him a “specialist for fun.” Eventually he turned his natural talents and passions into a career!
He moved to Las Vegas with no job or contacts and just started working. We had taken him there in his teens and he fell in love with the energy of the city. He loved it from the
beginning! He started working at a variety of hotels, restaurants, and night clubs. He learned everything “on the job” and pulled together the best parts from all of his experiences and contacts to start his business right in the middle of the recession.
He now works in Las Vegas as a consultant and has his own business called OnTheSceneVegas.com. His company sets up all the arrangements for airfare, ground transportation, hotels, dinner, venues, and excursions in and around Vegas. All you have to do is pack your bags! Limos are waiting, reservations are made, and you never have to wait in line. He loves showing off his favorite city!
He wasn’t a fan of school and ended up with a GED Credential.
My Middle Son graduated from high school, attended a community college, and then transferred to the University of Illinois.
From the University of Illinois he got a degree in Kinesiology — also known as “human kinetics” — the scientific study of human movement. He worked in sports programs for a few years. He then decided to go to Law School and graduated from Kent College of Law. He currently practices law in the Insurance industry.
My Youngest Son, much like my first son, found school unappealing but loved to work. He also earned his GED Credential.
When he was five years old he asked for a desk. From the first time he had his own desk, he said “I can’t come to dinner …I have work to do! Can’t you see how busy I am?” He got his first job at 12 years old at the corner Seven-Eleven store where he could walk to work. He was always interested in electronics and learned by “doing” and being “hands on” at stores like Best Buy where he learned to install audio and various systems in cars.
With his electronics experiences, he launched his first business when he was 21 years old! It didn’t work out but he gained a huge amount of experience. Because of his work style and interests, my husband and I knew our investment in his first business was far more educational than any college tuition could have been. At this young time in his life he went back to working for others, gaining additional experiences along the way.
In 2009, he again launched his own business installing various systems in cars. He “pulls out all the stops” for his clientele knowing “customer service” is the key to success. He currently has seven employees and has out grown his current location!
What is Your Career Advice?
- Don’t think college is the only option for Career Success.
- Pay attention to the natural interests your children demonstrate in their young years.
- Let your sons and daughters go with their “gut” and support them.
- Let them explore and find their own passions and really give kids their own
Did any of your boys ever move home as they searched for the career niche?
One came home for a short time but we gave him a time limit and let it be known that once he re-grouped he needed to move on.
How did it feel to be around parents whose children took a more traditional career path?
At first I was jealous! I listened to stories about colleges and careers and thought “What is going to happen to my boys?” But I thought about each one of them and knew I had to have faith in my kids. I knew that everyone was not going to succeed or reach their career potential by doing it the conventional way.