November 13, 2014
Living and working in the EU Brussels bubble, I am regularly asked to express my views about the career of young professionals or even for a presentation of opportunities to find a job in the capital of Europe. I am not referring to the academic courses that I teach in Brussels, Bucharest and Cluj, or even to the trainings I run through the company that I founded 10 years ago. It’s about the famous questions, received either by email or phone: “my child graduated from European studies, how to find a job in Brussels?”; “if he graduates with a master in economy from Paris, is he likely to find a good job?”; “what should I do?”; “with whom to talk?”; “are there effective ways to succeed?” etc. The questions come especially from parents. From people who have worked a lifetime for their children, for them to have a better life.
This message/article is for parents, for those who believe (and there are many in this category) that education is important. They think that educating their children is the most important investment possible.
Brussels is a city like many others in Europe. A city that took the chance (or misfortune as some Belgians say) to be the administrative capital of a supranational structure, now called the “European Union”. This is not the place to focus on what this “machine” can offer to youth, because we would lose the red thread of this message, but it is important to emphasize that under the European umbrella (as it rains a lot in Brussels, the comparison is not random) we have a continent living in relative peace, which is economically developed, and which provides a pleasant space to live decently. Of course there are differences, we are with more than 500 million citizens, and some are indeed doing better than others, but overall is not bad thing when you define yourself European.
Going back to your children, help them to understand the importance of reading and education. Although the Internet is a contemporary portal important to get familiar with, encourage them to read books, to go to the library to borrow classic books or even those not so famous.
It is important for them to discover and be tolerant of other cultures. The world is increasingly interconnected, and personal openness is a necessary step to the healthy development of social integration. Travel with your children whenever you have the opportunity. Discover the beauty of the country in which you live, of the cities and cultures of each area. Go to other countries, and take the kids with you. And even though it’s tempting to go to Turkey or Greece and spend your vacation on the beach, it’s more interesting to explain to those you love about the Parthenon in Athens or the Blue Mosque from Istanbul.
Give your children the chance to develop themselves internationally, encourage them to learn new languages. It is easy to think of the English language, as it has become one of the most common languages in the world, but it’s better to not neglect other languages. Encourage children to discover Europe, to develop international friendships, to go on trips to other countries, etc. Create this matrix of development for your child, where he develops a natural ease for moving through different cultural environments, where he expresses himself naturally in other languages, where the boundaries (often political) of borders and nations disappear naturally.
It is important to understand that the system of formal education (primary and secondary education > university > master > doctorate) is important, but not enough. To have a good life (also) means to find a respectable job. To get there, there must be a push: extracurricular activities, involvement in student organizations, development of projects, assuming responsibilities, having a personal opinion about subjects. These are things that should be encouraged.
Finally, I’d like to encourage all parents to supporting and guide your children in training and personal development, but don’t forget to give them the chance to do what they like! Children can be smart even if they do not watch television for 5 hours per day or playing computer games for hours. Provide alternatives however!
And for all of this to take shape, I recommend you to be with them. Do not be superficial about the daily parent-child relationship. Discover what they really think and your work is much easier.