What do you want to be when you grow up?
This is a question that parents ask their children from a very young age, and at first it’s just a point of interest, and a good way to determine what your little ones are into and find most appealing in their lives, at school, and so on. However, as time goes on, the reasons behind this question can change. By the time your child is a teenager, any parent asking this question is no longer interested in cute answers; they want to know the truth. They want to know what plans their child has for their lives.
Sometimes, the answer given to this question will be a forthright, definite one. It will be a question that the teenager can answer with complete confidence, sure in their career plans and future lives. A lot of the time, however, the answer will be a lot more non-committal and vague. It might simply be, “I don’t know.”
If this is the case, and if your teenager is at an age when they need to start making choices in terms of their education so they can move in the right direction, then it’s crucial they start putting more concrete ideas in place. As a parent, you can help them with this, although there will always be a fine balance between helping and hindering. With this in mind, here are some of the best ways you can help your teenager choose a career.
Suggest A Part-Time Job
Getting a part-time job can make a huge positive difference to a teenager, and it can help them determine the kind of career path they want to follow – or not – later in life. Interestingly, it doesn’t matter exactly what part-time job they have; it’s less about their learning experience (although this can be important) and more about the confidence they are gaining.
When you take on your first part-time job, you will quickly have to create a routine for yourself, ensure you are careful with your money, learn responsibility, take on training, and so much more. It’s far different from being at high school, and it’s a big learning curve. Any skills you learn when you have a part-time job in a grocery store or restaurant, for example, will be useful in your ultimate career and studies.
If your teenager doesn’t know what they want to do, then taking on a part-time job and learning what they are good at and what they enjoy could help them. They might find they are excellent at time management, so they decide to go into business. Perhaps they realize they are the one their colleagues always seek guidance from, and they follow that up with choosing to be a therapist or perhaps even choosing a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner program. Maybe their technical skills come to the fore, and they know they could look for a career in engineering. Even if the part-time job itself isn’t much fun and certainly isn’t what they want to do, if you encourage them to try, your teenager could find their place in the world because of it.
Give Them Biographies
There is a seemingly endless array of potential careers these days, so it’s no wonder that many teenagers aren’t sure what they want to do. They might even feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices they actually have.
As a parent, you can help your teenager choose a career by narrowing down those options with them. One way to do this is to encourage them to read – or listen to, if they prefer audiobooks – biographies. Head to the library together and pick out one or two biographies of people in different professions. These books will give an in-depth view of what that career is really like, and it will be told from the viewpoint of someone who has succeeded within that career.
Many different people have biographies written about them and may even have written an autobiography to give even more detail about what they have done with their lives. Choose books that reflect many different ideas and have your teenager read them. They might be inspired to find a career they can do well in, all thanks to a book you suggested they read.
Look For Volunteering Opportunities
There are many different options when it comes to volunteering, and all of them can help your teenager in some way in the difficult task of finding their ideal career. One type of volunteering is helping out in a business they are interested in working in, or at least a business in the same sector they might want to get into. These businesses may not be able to employ teenagers, either due to laws or because of budget constraints, but they might be able to offer them a volunteer position. They will be able to see what it’s like to work there and decide whether it’s the kind of thing they would like to do for their main careers or not. This is very useful, and you can help your teenager prepare an email or make a phone call (although you shouldn’t do it for them) to get started in this way.
The other kind of volunteering is helping those in need. Working at a soup kitchen, picking up litter, or helping in a nursing home, for example, will give your teenager some extremely useful skills. It will also look good on their resume, as it shows they are willing to do more than most other people would.
Take A Class
If your teenager is confused about what they might be able to do in terms of their career, it’s worthwhile looking into an evening class or online course. They will be able to do this at the same time as they continue their high school education, or they might want to wait until they graduate and take a year out before starting college in order to pick up additional experience and qualifications.
There are a plethora of different courses available from a wide range of sources, and your teenager doesn’t have to choose one that gives a particular qualification if they don’t want to; that’s what their college course will do. Instead, they can pick a number of different courses and study them all. This could be seen as a taster for what college would be like, and help them to determine what they really want to do.
They can choose a course in creative writing, forensics, photography, baking, and so much more. There is a course available for anything and everything. Over time, they will have a clear favorite, and it’s this path they can then pursue, already having some experience thanks to the course they chose.
If they are nervous about taking on additional learning, you can help them. You might want to do the course as well, or choose one of your own, and create some study time together, for example. Or perhaps you can help them get to and from the course if it needs them to physically go somewhere. Help them as much as you can, and they will be more relaxed and able to focus on what they are doing, hopefully making the right choice for them.
Complete Personality Tests
Although personality tests often do have to be taken with a pinch of salt, they can also be quite useful in giving your teenager at least an idea of the kind of career that might work for them and in which they could do well. It’s hard for anyone to understand their own personality well, but it’s this understanding that will ensure you pick the right career. By taking some quick online personality tests, you can get a much better idea of who you are, what you like, and which direction to take things in.
These tests shouldn’t be relied on entirely for all decisions relating to your teenager’s future. They are simply a way to get a better understanding of what might work, and help to narrow the options down. Plus, they can be a fun way to bond with your teenager – try doing them yourself, and it could make for a fun hour or so while you find out more about one another in the process.
If your teenager has a good idea of what they want to do, you still have a job as a parent. You must ensure they have researched everything they need to know about the job they want to do so they are prepared for their studies and the world of work once they graduate.
It’s so easy to get a one-sided view of a profession. Some jobs will look very exciting and even glamorous, especially if they are featured on TV or in movies. However, the reality could be very different, and it’s this that needs to be checked out. Help your teenager research various possibilities and ensure they are happy with their final choice.
Of course, once they have chosen, even once they have graduated and started working, they can change their mind at any time, but if they can get it right from the start, this will save them a lot of time and effort and ensure they are much happier in the world of work.