Senior year in high school is bursting full of activity. But not too far into the school year, people begin to ask your high school student what their plans are for AFTER high school. And while just because a person asks a question doesn’t mean you have to answer them, let’s help our teen be prepared. What are their career plans for after high school? What is the next step? How can we connect our teens to their dream job? Here are 9 smart ways to help your teenager choose a career path!
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12 Smart Ways to Help Your Teenager Choose a Career Path
As a mom, I know that you are super busy and don’t have hours and hours to devote to career planning. So I am going to show you how to incorporate career planning into what your teen is already doing.
Next, you can choose one or two other activities from the list below to be more intentional with your teen’s time (and yours!:). You are going to be amazed how easy it is to add career planning.
1. Part-Time Jobs Teach Teen’s Valuable Skills
The part-time job is such a valuable teacher. Most of the time our teens are not planning on shelving groceries or flipping burgers the rest of their life. But ANY part-time job is helping your teen gain valuable skills.
Part-time jobs almost always teach teens time management skills, how to listen and follow instructions, and money management. Part-time jobs can also teach customer service skills, the best way to memorize information, office skills, computer skills or how to make change.
But one of the best things part-time jobs teach is what a teenager likes and dislikes. And as we will explore later, gleaning this information from the part-time job is most important.
2. Explore Careers by Reading Biographies
We love to read YWAM biographies. Reading a person’s biography shows a person’s whole journey and not just that ONE moment in time for which they are famous. Encourage your teen, or read aloud together biographies of famous people. Talk about the ups and downs of the famous person’s life. What type of jobs did they have to do to get to where they wanted to go? What type of setbacks did they face?
I typically get my kids interested in doing this by choosing books on people they are interested or a time period (or place) they like.
I am also a bit of a survival junkie. Reading how a person overcame or survived a traumatic event has always fascinated me. You learn so much about all the life experiences the person was forced to pull from in that one significant moment. Discuss with your kids what skills the person had to rely on when it counted the most.
3. Learn about New Careers by Volunteering
Is your teenager paying the mortgage or rent? No? Perfect! Then they can use this time in their life to gain valuable on the job experience by volunteering.
Some companies where your teen would love to work, don’t hire minors or don’t have a budget to hire more help. But many work places would happily accept volunteer help. Could your teen volunteer at a company gaining valuable first hand experience that they could market later?
One of our boys volunteered at a local non-profit organization running sound for live music shows and weekly church services. He was taught how to use all the sound equipment, including working with various bands setting up the stage.
Later, as a college freshmen, he was hired by a huge church to be the lead media tech for one of their satellite campuses. This good paying job afforded him much more experience, income to pay for half of college and an offer for a full-time job after college. WIN!
4. Take a Class or Unit Study
In high school, a student doesn’t typically get to take a lot of different classes, but there is usually some variety. Make sure your student takes advantage of the opportunity to learn about a new field or push themselves further in an area they are gifted.
Our oldest boy used the time to take classes at a local career center learning welding. He realized that he really did enjoy working around machinery.
Our other son, College Boy, took a more challenging science class and a computer class at a local college. His take away from his experience was that while he liked the science class, he didn’t see that as a future.
The computer class ended up being way too easy for him, but the class actually gave him some confidence that he knew more than he realized. Next thing I knew he was ordering the parts to make his own computer, which he still uses for all his freelance sound and video editing today.
5. Find the Best Career Fit by Completing Personality Tests
Yay for personality tests!! OK, so perhaps your kids go running for the hills like my boys did when I said “personality tests”. But I learned something valuable about personality tests. You need to take several. Personality tests are all so different and the results can be kinda skewed when you are younger and don’t know yourself very well.
So encourage your kids to take multiple personality tests and try to glean a little bit from each test. Don’t allow your kids to just give up on the first one!
Here are a few to try out. Take the Holland Code questionnaire here. Click to go to website, click on Discover Possibilities and then click on Interest Profiles.
Try out the popular Ennegram test here.
Really enjoyed this book on the Enneagram called, The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile. I found the information fascinating! And the authors had so many illustrations of the various personalities, which brought the different personalities to life.
6. Research Careers within Field of Interest
After completing the Holland Code quiz, research a few of the suggested jobs. What is the average income for that job? Go to the job site Indeed and click on Find Salaries to discover how much that job pays.
How in demand is this job? You can find out how in demand a job is by looking for job postings on sites like Glassdoor or Indeed.
We certainly don’t want our teen to pick a job solely on income, but we wish to raise smart teens that weigh out the benefits of their career choices. And we want to make sure our student is pursuing a job that pays well and is in demand. We don’t desire our teenager to graduate from college with $75,000 in debt and a unusable degree.
7. Read a Career Plan Book
Before you start telling me how your teen will never read a career planning book, give me just a minute:) There are many great career planning books out there. And there are several ways you can approach this.
One, you as the parent read over the career plan book and glean from it information that you gradually share with your teen. Secondly, you can buy the audio book. You and your teen can listen on the way to school or to activities. Thirdly, you can buy a hard copy of the book and go through a chapter at a time.
The thing to remember with books is that even if you don’t make it all the way through you almost always learn several new tips.
Lastly, buy THE book on career planning. Every other year, I take a group of teens through the book, What Color is My Parachute by Carol Christen and Richard Bolles. This book (my favorite is the 2nd edition) is so practical and actionable. We have so much fun in class! I love seeing the light bulb moments the kids have when they discover something new about themselves!
What I love about What Color is My Parachute is that unlike most career planning books, it helps a student really get to know themselves, their interests, people they enjoy, environments they thrive in, and tasks that bring them energy. No longer will you and your teen feel like you are blindly picking a career in the dark.
After going through What Color is My Parachute your teen will have a clear understanding of what type of jobs will really bring them joy. And once your teen makes that magical intersection between a job and their interests they are going to work ten times harder to get there! Awesome!!
8. Attend College and Career Fairs
Taking your teen to a college and career fair is a great way to acquire a lot of information in one place. Your teen will see all the variety of colleges. They will learn about new careers field or certification programs they may not have been aware of previously. Also, most teens like receiving goodies from the schools and appreciate the boost of confidence in having schools want to talk to them.
And college fairs can feel slightly less threatening then a campus visit.
9. Choose a Career by Job Shadowing or Interning
Is your teen really interested in learning about a job, but is unable able to work or volunteer there to find out more? That is where job shadowing can come into play!
Job shadowing is where you follow around a person for the day at their job. Most places are receptive to job shadowing. When one of our local homeschool teens wanted to learn more about being a veterinarian, I contacted a vet office. Though they did not allow volunteers, they were happy to allow the teen to job shadow for the day.
Many high schools do a job shadow day. Make sure to take advantage of your school’s job shadow days. Or feel free to contact a business yourself and ask if they have a job shadow program.
10. Use Hospitality and Mentors to Choose a Career
What are you supposed to do if your high school student is super excited about a career field which you know nothing. Enter the mentor!
Chances are that even if you know nothing about science or fine arts, you probably know a family friend that does. Invite that fine art friend over for dinner and ask them to share a bit about their job. Most people love to talk about what they do, after all, it is one of their favorite topics!
When I first learned about the job, victim advocate, I was fascinated! I actually started calling around my local town til I found two people that called themselves, victim or court advocates. I asked them if I could have an hour of their time in exchange for lunch. Both victim advocates said yes! Four months later, I was hired as a court and family advocate!
11. Explore Careers Within Teen’s Field of Interest
Everyone wants to be the football star or the actress on the big screen. But have you ever thought about the hundreds of jobs behind the scenes?
Often teenagers head for the most well-known choice in a certain field. The smart student keeps heading toward their dream but also learns about other jobs in that same field.
As your teen learns about treating injuries, best coaching practices or how to video a football game they are broadening their horizons in the field of sports. Your teen is now even more marketable, plus they can pivot to another career choice , in a field they love, if they need!
12. Discuss With Teens What They are Learning
THIS step, to me, is the most important. And it is the one parents often overlook. We need to talk with our teens about what they are learning.
As parents we want to take on an interview type role, where we lead our teens to think through WHY they like or don’t like a certain class, activity or part-time job. By asking questions, we are aiding our teens in verbalizing and thinking through their specific likes and dislikes.
Here are a list of questions you can pose:
- What tasks did you like at your last job?
- What is your favorite part of this activity (soccer, theater, etc…)
- Do you prefer it when your teacher has you work alone or in groups?
- Which assignment in that class was your least favorite?
- Did you enjoy the people on your team?
- Do you like when your boss gives you a list of tasks or allows creativity?
- How did you feel about your work environment on your last job?
- What would have made your last job better?
Most of the time, teens will simply say, “I hate my job.” They quit and choose another one. And there isn’t a whole lot of discussion. But we want to walk our teens through why a certain job was draining, or why they were energized by another job.
There are so many interesting jobs. But not every job will be a good fit for your teen. As they learn and understand their likes, dislikes and their gifts they will be able to sort through potential jobs quickly. Your teen will not waste precious time and money exploring a career they know, based on their personality is not the best job for them.
12 Smart Ways to Help Your Teenager Choose a Career Path
As you read over this post, I’m sure you noticed that you and your teen are already doing career planning and you didn’t even know it! Now, identify one or two other activities that you all can do to solidify a career plan for your student!
What is working for your teen? What obstacles have you run into as your teen tries to choose a career? Comment below!