Written by Kristen Smith, Impact Services Coordinator
How does your Little Sister envision her future? Has she talked about the goals she has for herself? As her Big Sister, you may be wondering how you can help your Little Sister select and achieve her plans for the future. First, keep in mind that there are many paths to success. You may need to widen your ideas about career and life decisions to include trade schools, culinary schools, community colleges, parenting, among many others. It is important to take the lead from your Little Sister about how she envisions her future. If she already has an idea of what she would like to do for a career, help her break it down so that she understands all the steps she needs to take to get from where she is now to where she wants to be in the future. If she is unsure of a future career, help her explore her interests through volunteering, a job, or internships. This will help her get experience in a specific field and decide if it is an area that she would like to pursue.
To help her break down her goal into obtainable steps, it is helpful to start by discussing goal setting. Whether it is a long term goal – like her future career – or a short term goal – like wanting to make the basketball team – it is important to know how to set and achieve a goal. One helpful tool is to ensure tyou are setting goals that follow the S.M.A.R.T acronym: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. If you and your Little Sister are interested in exploring these topics, I encourage you to attend Dream Big! a Real Choices, Strong Voices workshop. This workshop will discuss how to create S.M.A.R.T. goals and how Big Sisters can support and encourage their Little Sisters in achieving their goals. You can contact your Match Support Specialist to find out when the workshop for your Little Sister’s age range is being held. Additionally, here are some tips and items to keep in mind when discussing setting goals with your Little Sister.
- Let your Little Sister take the lead around discussing her future plans. If she expresses an interest in talking about her goals, try to find fun ways to expose her to her options. For example, getting lunch or playing Frisbee on a college campus, or showing your Little Sister your office space. These are less overwhelming than taking a college tour or bringing her to work with you for a full day.
- Help her think through the steps she needs to take to reach her goals. For instance, if she wants to be a nurse, she’ll need to think about what training she’ll need to be certified. If you don’t know, look it up! This is a great activity to do together.
- You can sharpen your Little Sister’s decision making skills by asking questions not giving answers when she comes to you with a problem. For instance, if your Little Sister asks you if she should run for student council, ask her questions to help her think through the pros and cons so she comes to a decision that works for her.
- Expose her to new things and encourage her interests and skills. Using positive reinforcement and telling your Little Sister when you notice she is good at something is a wonderful way to help her see her potential. Let her know if there are career options that match her interests. For instance, if your Little Sister loves children, ask her if she has considered working in a daycare setting or teaching?
- Share your own experiences and how you made the choices you made. Particularly make note of the unexpected obstacles that you faced and how you navigated those challenges.
- Offer a range of perspective – For example, “Some people think it’s really important to go to college right away, which is why I did, because of x, y, z, but other people think it’s great to work and save money after you graduate from high school, while other people think it’s important to focus on doing volunteer work. What do you think?”
- Encourage your Little Sister to talk with her caregivers about what she wants her future to be. Suggest that she ask her family about how they reached their own goals.
Talk to your Match Support Specialist if you need more specific help or additional resources.
Upcoming Big Sister Events
Tuesday, March 19, 6:00pm-9:00pm
Saturday, April 13, 1:00pm-3:00pm
This is for Little Sisters age 14+. Learn about the college experience first hand from Simmons College students. You will receive a tour of the college, learn about the application process, see a dorm room, and more! Email Jen Perrone at email@example.com to reserve your spot.
Real Choices, Strong Voices
For more information on the next Real Choices, Strong Voices workshop, email Margot Phelps at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be sure to “like” our Facebook page to hear about ticket opportunities for you and your Little Sister. Past ticket opportunities include Patriots tickets, Red Sox tickets, museum tickets, and plays.
Guest Post by Marketing Intern, Molly Decker
It is essential for girls growing up today to have competent, caring, strong women to look up to and model themselves after. But for those girls interested in taking the business world by storm, we find ourselves with few women running the show, and even fewer who get recognized for their hard work in mainstream media. With all the women we have in our families, in our workplaces and schools, and in our day to day lives who do great things, we have to wonder why the representation of women in high-power positions is still so small. Where are our women leaders?
Facebook is a social media company well-known and loved by just about anyone who’s over 13 and has access to a computer. With all the daily attention Facebook gets simply by being an open tab in most internet browsers for “study breaks”, and with the Facebook movie, The Social Network, showcasing of Mark Zuckerberg’s determination and sheer genius, one wonders why few know that the person right behind Zuckerberg in the chain of command is a strong, independent woman.
The article discusses Sandberg’s book, Lean In, which is due to be published later in 2013. In the book, she writes that while “chauvinism and corporate obstacles” definitely present an issue for women taking charge in the business market, women are too often socially conditioned to settle for what is given and in doing so, effectively hold themselves back.
Sandberg says, “We internalize the negative messages we get throughout our lives, the messages that say it’s wrong to be outspoken, aggressive, more powerful than men. We lower our own expectations of what we can achieve.”
This is something young girls can take to heart instead of the “negative messages”: just like having an emotion is not only for females, having a strong opinion is not only for males. We should use our strong voices and stand by our beliefs when we see changes that need to be made. We must share our ideas in group projects and in meetings. We need to let ourselves be heard.
ForbesWoman did a study in 2012 of America’s top 500 companies, and found that “there are now 20 female CEOs…[and] that paltry number (4%) is actually a record.” Why is that, when we are capable of achieving more? As women, if we continue to dream small or let the negatives messages affect us, we may never see a world where there are just as many women working as CEOs as there are men. So, we can’t be afraid of dreaming big. And more importantly, we must be assertive, and let ourselves turn those dreams into a reality.
What can you do to be more assertive? How can you support your friends when they speak up? What can you do to promote positive change in the way girls approach business? Leave a comment below.