As a young girl, in middle school, it was common for me to answer, “What do you want to be when you grow up” more than once a day. In addition, as if on cue, I would proudly spell the name doctor and smile mischievously. Well, it was prestigious to be a doctor, it would not only give my parents something to boast about but also a secure pay for me.
Growing up, I have changed options countless times, from law to survey then poetry. When I happily settled on being a copy editor after college, I had learnt two things. Firstly, choosing a career is not just deciding what you will do to make a living but it is also choosing your way of life, your happiness levels, your stressors and the problems you would like to solve in the society. Secondly, I learnt that as a teenager, I needed help (out of myself) in order to make the right decisions. Here are a few tips and steps to help your teenager/high schooler choose the right career.
Encourage your child to take up part time jobs
A part time job is like a life teacher. They teach your child management skills, efficiency, listening skills, leadership and money management. He/she learns to work under other people and take instructions from them. It is true to say that your child is not planning to flip burgers the rest of her life, but by doing so, she gets exposure into the world of work. This also helps her to identify what she likes or dislikes, which is invaluable in settling for the right career.
Explore new careers with her/for her/to her
A good way to do this is to read biographies of people that your child likes. This will not only show her the success part but it will unveil the whole journey (the small steps).Reading with your teenager creates an open discussion where you talk about important skills set that the people they admire posses. Your child is more likely to be influenced by such individuals, and end up taking the same career paths.
The world of work is changing drastically, as a parent explore new careers with your child and go into the details of what they entail. Avoid forcing up your views but be fair and open.
Guide them to Completing personality tests
You might wonder, well, why not ask them what they like? The unfortunate news is that in most circumstances, they also do not know. In order to get the best out of personality tests, you need to take several; this is because each one of them has a different standard. You will find that most results are skewed or inaccurate, but the end goal is to help your kid know himself/herself better with each test taken. Common personality test includes the Myer and Briggs test, ennegram test and the Holland code questionnaire. After taking the test, help your child to list favorable careers and embark on a journey of exploring each one of them.
Identify talents or abilities and invest quality time in them
Every child has unique abilities and hidden talents. It is your duty as a parent or guardian to identify them and support your child. If your child is a singer, poet or writer, encourage her by attending live performances and reading her stories. Set time to engage your child in playful discussions and let them explain to you their desires aspirations and dreams. Be your Childs number one fan, even if you do not understand those drawings and rap songs. Your child is more likely to be confident in what they do when you affirm those abilities. Often, people choose careers from talents, abilities and interests that make them appear brave and confident.
Encourage your child to Attend career fairs
I am tempted to add campus visits in this segment, but I know how intimidating they can be for a high schooler. Career fairs are a fun way to learn and get information in one place. Your child can learn about new career paths, fields and beneficial certifications that were previously unknown. This will not only give them variety but will also ensure they have in-depth knowledge.
Connect your child with mentors, coaches and people they admire
It is your duty as a parent to connect your child with the right mentor or coach. While it is still cool to be your Childs role model, some positive outside force will do some good. If your child cannot volunteer or work with a person they look up to, shadowing comes in handy. Most people love to talk about what they do, and your teenager will gather a thing or two.
Let your connections interact with your child. You can do this by organizing dinners, planning social activities among others. The entire process does not have to be formal. Most high schoolers are intimidated by such formal settings.
Don’ts while helping your child choose a career
Avoid dictating rather make suggestions
We understand that you have the best intentions towards your child. However, dictating what they should do with their life is not among them. We seen kids study medicine only go back to college later to pursue their interest as a DJ (disk jockey). Make suggestions and leave the choice to your child.
Do not pressure them to forego their interest in pursuit of higher paying careers
A good pocket is not a bad thing. However, when the pocket gets in the head, humanity is doomed. Let your child do what makes them happy, it might be true that money can buy many things but happiness is definitely not on the list. A career is a lifetime activity; it should be fun and enjoyable.
When all is said and done, your input as a parent plays a major role in what your child becomes. This is because you are their first role model. Believe in them, support them, and encourage them.