The second annual City & Guilds’ Youth Aspiration Index study (2006) has found that the majority of today’s teenagers would prefer to take a job that gives them satisfaction and makes them happy rather than a job with a larger salary. Even more, it was found that almost 90% of teens today expect to be happy in their future careers. To keep these admirable expectations alive in your teenager, discuss with them their own thoughts on work and be ready to give them some sound, and inspirational, advice and support.
Encourage Teens’ Interests
One of the best ways to assist teens considering future career choices is to help them determine their interests. Help them think about questions such as:
- How do they spend their free time?
- What are their favourite classes at school?
- Which clubs have they joined at school?
- Are they involved in any community activities?
- Do they have an identifiable passion?
- Do they have a particularly enjoyable hobby?
- What type of holiday or summer work are they interested in?
- Which careers appeal to them?
Help Hone Teens’ Skills
In addition to determining where teens’ interests lie, helping them to maximise their natural skills and talents is another avenue of career guidance you can offer. Talk with teens about:
- Classes they find particularly easy and interesting.
- Remarks made by teachers or school administrators.
- Club or community activities they feel they do particularly well.
- Their own perceptions of their talents.
- Your perceptions of their talents.
- Activities or extra interest classes they are interested in exploring.
- “Shadowing” someone in a career they are interested in.
- Visiting the school guidance counsellor for further advice.
- Visiting a professional career counsellor for another view.
Support Teens’ Decisions
Often teens have a fairly well developed idea of what they enjoy doing and where their talents lie, but will be afraid to share this with others for fear of being criticised. Remind teens that you are always ready to listen, and that:
- You want them to be happy.
- No job or career is “beneath them” if they enjoy it.
- Everyone has to start somewhere.
- Hard work is the secret to success.
- You believe that they will make a success of whatever they want to do.
For some teenagers, high education holds no appeal. If teenagers you know show little interest in third level education, remind them that they can always:
- Explore trades and apprenticeships.
- Research careers that do not require college or university education.
- Own their own businesses.
- Return to university as a mature student, if so desired.
No matter where they live or what they do, all good parents have in common a desire for their children to be happy. Work is a large part of modern life, one that most teens hope to be happy with when they begin their careers. Work with teens now to help them pinpoint their interests and talents, and watch their careers blossom later!