“What do I want to be when I grow up?” This question is on the mind of every teen, but the answer isn’t always clear. As a parent, your teen may look to you for guidance—in fact, 78% of teens list their parents as their main source of career advice
So how can you help them tackle this major decision? The good news is that you don’t have to be a certified career counselor to help your teen explore careers. Here are five easy tips for getting started:
1) Start With an Open Mind
You teen may already have some career ideas—professional soccer player, rap star, film director—that you may think are unrealistic. But kicking off a career conversation with the word “no” is the fastest way to shut it down. If your teen has a big or naïve career dream, encourage them to gather as much information as possible, then draw their own conclusions.
2) Point Out Their Strengths
Your teen’s strengths can provide some great clues to what kind of work they might enjoy. If you notice that they are good at calculating the tip at a restaurant, planning activities for their friends, or explaining complicated ideas, point it out. Identifying natural aptitudes can help your teen start thinking about a career direction.
3) Encourage Hands-On Exploration
One of the best ways to test drive a career idea is by getting a first-hand glimpse of a person working in the field. To do this, help your teen to set up a job shadow or encourage them to volunteer at a related organization. Even talking with someone in the industry can have a big impact—you may be surprised how happy people are to share their experiences with a young mind!
4) Dive Deep Using Online Research Resources
Online career databases—including government resources like the Occupational Outlook Handbook or more teen-focused sites like Inside Jobs can provide information on specific careers, including salary, matching personality traits, job outlook, training requirements, and more. Using these tools, your teen can research and create a list of their top five career ideas or areas.
Another point to remember: the majority of jobs in the future will require education past high school. As part of their research, make sure your teen understands how much education they will need to attain their career goals.
5) Stay Positive
Thinking about choosing a career or working a job can be overwhelming—especially when your 15, 16, or 17! You’re positive attitude can give a major boost to your teen’s confidence for their future.
What tips do you have for exploring the world of work with you teen?