How to Talk to Your Teenager about Careers

help your teenager pick a careerThe world of work can be hard for teens to grasp: Try these tips

For a high school student who has never had a full-time permanent job, the wide world of work can be hard to understand. “What do you want to be when you grow up” is a question that is getting nearer in their lives, and many teens react by ignoring it or by getting stressed over it.

What are some ways that parents can help their teenaged children navigate the career options that may be available to them? The best place to start is with a teen-friendly approach. Here are some tips:

Find a comfortable atmosphere
Some teens don’t feel comfortable talking about their future paths. For many teens, the more you pressure them, the more they will feel stressed or clam up. Rather than sitting them down face to face at a table, try taking a walk or a drive. Sometimes when your eyes are all facing forward, teens are more likely to open up. Your best bet is to keep it comfortable.

Use Internet resources
Encourage your teen to spend time every week doing some career exploration on their own. Some useful resources may be:

Education Planner: This is a government resource that provides career interest surveys, career videos, hot jobs for the future, and a whole host of information about preparing for school and paying for school.

Occupational Outlook Handbook: This online handbook is published by the U.S. Department of Labor. It provides hundreds of career profiles listed alphabetically. For any of the careers, your teen can find out about the job outlook, the expected pay, and the type of training you need to pursue the career.

Use real-life resources
Ask your teen to take advantage of career days and other opportunities that may be presented at their schools. Get your teen talking to adults about their jobs. Talk about your own job in front of your teen. Ask your teen about his or her own part-time job. What did they like and dislike about it? Hearing real-life descriptions of real jobs can help your teen narrow down what they may or may not want to do.

Talk about pros and cons
Once your teen has identified a few areas that may interest them, work with them to develop a list of pros and cons. This will help them to better analyze their choices and see which ones may be a good fit for them. Use a soft touch when you do this—remember, this is your child’s life and not your life. They ultimately should feel comfortable with what they choose.

Figure out a path
Once some key interests are in place, look at the education path that is needed for that career. Is it do-able? What schools offer that type of training? Will you be able to afford it? The teen should take part in all of these discussions so that they know the logistics behind reaching their career goal.

We hope these ideas and resources help you begin a discussion with your child about what their future may hold. It is an exciting and frightening time of life, but with a little self-reflection and research, your teen should be well prepared to make this decision.


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