When you were growing up, did your parents ever tell you that you could grow up to be whatever you wanted to be? If so, did you have a hard time believing them? The enthusiasm of youth tends to make it easier for kids to believe they truly can do whatever they want when the time comes. But as middle school gives way to the peer pressure of high school and the cynicism of young adulthood, those hopes and dreams often fade.
Growing up can be especially difficult for girls. So often we are told that the world is our oyster – and it is compared to what past generations have endured – but it is difficult to grab that oyster if you don’t know what it looks like. That’s why it’s so important to empower girls by encouraging them in their career dreams from the very earliest stages.
Exposing Them to All the Choices
One of the best ways to begin empowering girls early on is to expose them to all of the choices in front of them. As an organization committed to helping young ladies become successful women who contribute to the community, the Junior League of Salt Lake City believes that holding job fairs is an excellent starting point.
A job fair is a way to show young girls examples of women doing the very work they want to do. For example, a female police officer instantly becomes a girl empowerment volunteer simply by showing up at a job fair and explaining to the girls what she does for a living and why she loves her job.
It is true that our daughters can grow up to be whenever they want to be. But it can be difficult to picture yourself in a given career if you have never seen another woman in that same position. Job fairs aimed specifically at girls address this very real and difficult challenge.
Mentoring Girls As They Grow
Above and beyond career fairs, empowering girls by encouraging their career dreams means mentoring them as they grow. Parents act as primary mentors by directing their daughters towards the kinds of activities that will foster their stated dreams. They help their daughters pursue educational opportunities and vocational training. They encourage volunteer work and involvement in community events relevant to their chosen careers.
Coming alongside parents are working women who mentor teenage girls as they get closer to graduation and the start of college. Mentoring throughout college and during the early years of a woman’s working life seals the deal.
Empowering Future Stay-At-Home Moms
By no means should we ever imply that empowering girls to be whatever they want to be means steering them away from being stay-at-home moms. The fact is that being a stay-at-home mom is just as much work as pursuing a career. It is a full-time job that is as important as anything a woman could do outside the home.
There are some girls who dream of getting married, settling down, and raising a family. Those dreams are absolutely legitimate and should be fostered through the same parental involvement and outside mentoring. Stay-at-home moms mentoring young girls with the same hopes and dreams is incredibly encouraging to those of us who believe in the potential future generations.
What does it take to become a girl empowerment volunteer who encourages girls to follow their career dreams? A willingness to get involved and a place to plug in. There are plenty of organizations throughout the U.S. ready and willing to bring on anyone who wants to help. The more volunteers, the better.