Careers education and my son – two of my favourite things. I can’t describe my excitement when the two collided for the first time recently.

An email announced the forthcoming Applied Learning Day, a whole school day off timetable to focus on careers and work-related learning. My expectations were high, though I was mentally preparing myself for probable disappointment, based on tweenage levels of enthusiasm and my own distant memories of uninspiring careers education at school.

I remember having access to a dedicated careers adviser, but I didn’t get a lot from him – in fact, I remember him dissuading me from my first degree choice, on the basis that I wouldn’t get the grades. In the end, I proved him wrong, but the lack of faith still influenced my path.

Anyway, back to present day reality. The day finally arrived and he loved it, a total result. First titbit of information – his team of four won the careers research competition, beating teams from across the year. The prize sweets were consumed in the car.

Next up, potential career choices. The students used Fast Tomato, an online careers guidance programme for teenagers. Based on his current interests, Fast Tomato suggested engineering as a strong option, closely followed by a political career.

Fast Tomato seemed to be about the right level for 12 to 13-year-olds, outlining career options and providing useful information and guidance on potential careers. Checking it out myself, I answered around 30 – 50 questions on my career preferences, and received a report on potential career choices. Comparing it to what I already know, I find Plotr a more comprehensive careers tool, which is also aimed at 11 to 24-year-olds. Given the time constraints, it seems Fast Tomato was a good option for its accessibility and fast results.

He enjoyed the budgeting task, allocating his projected salary to the regular pots that suck up our salaries in adult life. I’m still smiling at the tale of one classmate who spent the whole shebang on a fleet of quadbikes, with just enough left over for a jalopy and a hostel. When quizzed, he unveiled plans for a quadbike rental business. Watch out Dragons, this teen tycoon is coming for you!

What a fantastic first taste of the careers space. Congratulations to the school and CXK service for a job well done!