Jean-Phillipe Michel is devoted to helping young students engage in career conversations that emphasize the unique ways they can contribute to the challenges and opportunities in the world. The creator of The Challenge Method, Jean-Phillipe wants to encourage students to think widely and boldly about issues they care about and to harness those interests to create vibrant careers. As he states, “The Challenge Method generates a different career conversation with students because it is based on the following message: The world needs you”.
You work with high school students and are dedicated to helping them with their next steps. How did you come to work so passionately with this age group?
When I work with high school students, they are constrained by far fewer limits than the average adult. Therefore, they can dream boldly about creating incredible futures for themselves. I find this inspiring, which is why I love working with this age group. There are certainly obstacles that students need to prepare for, but they have the space and freedom to reflect, explore and create.
You created The Challenge Method to help youth think about and discuss the bigger picture as opposed to being exclusively focused on jobs. Can you elaborate on how The Challenge Method works?
The Challenge Method helps prepare students for the future of work by shifting them away from job titles to problems, challenges and opportunities. This allows them to create a path forward that 1) embraces change; 2) identifies potential skills and experiences required and 3) focuses on what the world needs.
Students who embrace the Challenge Method first scan their environment to find challenges they are interested in. For example, they could land on any of the following challenges: “How can we help our aging population live healthy, meaningful lives?”, “How can we build artificial intelligence that leads to job creation?”, or ”How can we restructure social services to provide better outcomes?”.
Once students identify a challenge they want to work on, they find organizations currently working on this challenge. Then, they continue their research by identifying individuals who work there, how they contribute, what careers and job titles they currently have, and what education programs prepared them for these roles. This research will ultimately lead students to be inspired for their own career path and education options.
From my research and experience, this method yields far greater results than the approach of matching people with job titles and then expecting them to hold this job for the duration of their careers.
Many of my own young clients express the desire for mentorship and ultimately making-a-contribution to the world. These are statements of collaboration and connection. You link career with making a unique contribution to the world. Can you comment on the importance of this connection and how it creates a different conversation with young students?
The Challenge Method generates a different career conversation with students because it is based on the following message: “The world needs you”. This is because there are countless problems, challenges and opportunities for them to work on. Since there are numerous ways to contribute to these challenges, finding their own unique way to contribute is not only possible but recommended in order to create a great career.
This conversation is more hopeful and optimistic then the anxiety-provoking messages that youth are hearing today regarding unemployment, underemployment, disengagement, etc. I’ve found that starting from a place of abundance (ie. there are many great challenges for you to work on), while being transparent about the work required to achieve one’s objectives, is the best way to engage youth in a powerful career conversation.
I’d encourage parents, guidance counsellors and teachers who want to start a powerful career conversation to leverage the Challenge Method and the Challenge Cards to start a different career conversation that gets results.