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Tanya, chief technology officer of the local software success story, looked at her daughter, Leila, with bemusement. “You want to sign up for LinkedIn? But you’re only ten.”

“I know, Mom. I’m already ten! That’s why I need to set up my profile. I’m way behind everyone else in class.”

“Okay, Leila, I hear you. I suspect I’m missing some context. Fill me in, please.”

“We’re learning all about running a business. How it requires everything we’re learning in school: math, people skills, art, science, reading, everything. We’re building our own business. Our teacher, Miss Brown, is the owner. She’s hiring, and she’s using LinkedIn to decide who to employ. So, we each have to create a profile.”

“Are you even allowed to create a profile at your age?”

“Yes, Mom,” Leila said with exasperation. “Miss Brown checked everything. I just need an adult to help.”

“Okay then. Are we using my computer or your tablet?”

“Tablet. I’ve already installed the app. But, you have to sign in and then vouch for me.”

Leila led Tanya through the whole process without a misstep. Soon, they were looking at Leila’s brand new profile. “Thanks, Mom!” Leila said, then ran out onto the porch and set to work.

“So different from my classes when I was ten,” Tanya said to herself as she headed to her home office and set to work.

Only to be interrupted almost immediately.

“Mom, I need help,” Leila declared.

Tanya sighed, locked her computer, and turned around to face Leila. “What’s up, pumpkin?”

“I don’t know what to use for the job titles in my Experience section.”

“Well, that is a problem. You haven’t had to interview for any of those positions, so you haven’t had someone else telling you what to use. But, you know what? All the experts say to make up your own titles anyway, so they describe what you actually did. So, I help my people do this all the time.”

“I knew you could help,” Leila declared.

“I appreciate your faith in me,” Tanya said with a smile. “Start by making a list of everything you enjoy doing.”

“Got it,” Leila said with determination and set to work. Tanya turned back to her computer and set to work as well.

Tanya had ten blessed minutes of focused work before Leila piped up with, “Done! Now what?”

“Do some LinkedIn searches for the terms you used and see what comes up.”

“Got it,” Leila confirmed and started tapping away on her tablet. Tanya went back to work as well. For about a minute before Leila said plaintively, “I’m not finding anything.”

Tanya beckoned her daughter over. “Let’s figure out what’s going on.”

Leila dragged her chair over and showed her mom her search history. “See, nothing,” Leila said with frustration.

“I do see. And, I know just what to do. Remember, LinkedIn is mostly used by adults. Who, mostly, use adult words and concepts. So, we just need to find adult words and concepts that match the ones you used.”

“Oh! Okay. I just need to ask myself how Daddy would explain it.”

“That’s strategy is excellent,” Tanya agreed. Her husband’s inability to describe anything in terms Leila could understand had been a running joke in the family since Leila had started asking questions.

This time, Tanya got in a solid twenty minutes of work before Leila spoke up again.

“Okay, Mom. I have a list of job titles. But, I don’t know what any of them mean. How do I choose which ones to use?”

“Well, some people would say that since you don’t know which ones are better, it doesn’t matter which ones you choose. But, we don’t want to mislead your teacher about your job history. That’s a good way to get in trouble. So, let’s take a look through and see if I can’t explain them to you.”

Half an hour and much laughing later, Leila and Tanya leaned back with satisfaction. “I am impressed with your work experience,” Tanya told Leila. “I’ve never met someone who has been a user interface designer, a biomechanical engineer, and an ethicist. But, it absolutely fits your life to date.”

“Does this mean I want to be a biomechanical ethics designer when I grow up?” Leila asked.

“Well, maybe. I’m not sure that job actually exists. Although, if anyone could create it, you could. More likely, your widely varying interests mean you have a super curious mind. And that trait will take you far.”

“As if we didn’t already know that about you, Leila,” said a voice from the doorway.

“Daddy!” Leila said, jumping out of Tanya’s lap and charging toward her father.

“How long have you been listening in?” Tanya asked her husband.

“Just a minute or two. Leila, how about we go climb a tree and you can tell me what this is all about while Mommy finishes up work?”

“Sounds great,” Tanya and Leila replied in unison, Leila with an excited grin and Tanya with a grateful smile.

As Tanya returned to her computer, she reflected on how many similar conversations she had with grown adults, helping her people describe their career histories and hopes. In every case, this approach of using their own words to describe the parts of their jobs they had enjoyed and then using those as keywords to search for positions on LinkedIn had brought them the same illumination it had brought Leila. “This will get a chuckle at the board meeting tomorrow,” Tanya thought. “It’s perfect for reinforcing my proposal to redefine our job ladders. Which, I had better finish.” Full of inspiration, Tanya set to work.

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