The idea of going to school and finding a job for life was once the standard advice most of us would follow, however today, with the gig economy, zero hour contracts and portfolio careers, helping your teenager find their career path can be a lot more challenging.
On the one hand you might want to encourage them to be more entrepreneurial in their approach and look into self employment, or even setting up their own high growth business, or a number of side hustles that generate passive income so they can embrace the “freedom lifestyle.”
On the other hand, many people are clinging onto the idea of the security that comes from mastering a skill or trade such as nursing, dentistry or cooking. The one thing that’s clear today, is that when it comes to education, having a generic degree is not as worthwhile as it once was – today, it’s more about focusing on niche topics, for instance a Wilfrid Laurier online diploma in national security is likely to get your teenager much further, with regard to career advancement than a psychology or sociology degree.
The reason for this, is that unless they have a laser focused outcome (e.g. they want to be a psychotherapist) doing a psychology degree isn’t necessarily the best thing to do, as you can find many people with psychology degrees working in call centres, gas stations, and hotels – because there are so many people with this type of degree.
In this article we’re going to look at some core pieces of advice to help your teenager find the right career path for them.
Hone In On Their Passion
It’s possible that you already have some idea of what you would like them to be, or do with their life, yet one of the worst things you can do as a parent is to force their hand in following a career path that leads them to where you want them to be.
Instead, you need to help them work out and discover their passion, as for some people they are passionate about making money, whilst others care about making things, others want to help people, and others love nothing more than interacting with animals.
You need to help them discover what they truly love, and have genuine passion for, as helping them to hone in on their passion is the fundamental root to success when it comes to determining where they should focus their energy in terms of pursuing education and a career.
Evaluate Natural Talents
Some people are naturally gifted in communication, or being creative, whereas others are naturally gifted in terms of mathematics or problem solving. You want to evaluate your child’s natural talents and see what these talents align with. This way, it’s like swimming with the tide rather than against the tide, as whilst they can do anything they set their mind to, it’s often easier to focus on areas they are naturally gifted in rather than struggle with.
Determine Their Sense of Purpose
A lot of times, teenagers as well as adults, drift into jobs as a means to an end – with no sense of purpose other than to make money from each hour they trade their time for. This can be a very demotivating experience that sets a precedent for their future career… so it’s important you help them determine a sense of purpose.
This means, you want to tap into what makes them tick and feel personal pride; for instance, some people might feel a sense of purpose when helping a lady cross the road by carrying her shopping, whereas, for other people, they might feel more purpose when it comes to knitting a scarf to give to their grandmother.
You need to help your teenager work out what drives them in order to establish their sense of purpose.
The reason this is so important is that many people today are picking out career paths that lead to a job they feel they should have, or should like, or that pays well – rather than focusing on their passion, natural talents and sense of purpose.
Experience Is Everything
You may have heard the term, or read the book, Attitude is Everything and that’s absolutely right, yet when it comes to helping your teenager find their career path, experience is what counts. Of course, many employers value experience but that’s not what this refers to in this article – here, we’re talking about facilitating an abundance of life experiences so they can work out what they want.
Travel, for instance, is a great way to expand their range of experience, as the more a young person is exposed to, the more they can discover themselves and find out what makes them tick.
Pick Out a Cluster of Job Roles
Whilst it makes sense to train toward something specific, with regard to education, you don’t want to make it so specific they can only do that one thing. Many teenagers will change their mind as they grow up and experience new things, therefore, you want to focus on a cluster of jobs. For instance, a degree in national security could be useful for entering the FBI, CIA, Armed Forces or Police Force. There are a number of roles within each of these jobs that would be relevant.
Keeping it a little broad but focused on a cluster is much better than categorically training for one particular position, as it gives them the freedom to change their mind.
In summary, you want to focus on what drives them – their passion and sense of purpose, and consider what career paths would be aligned with their natural gifts and talents… then, pick out a cluster of jobs that interest them, and study toward this specific cluster – for instance, the person that wants to be a psychotherapist may feel it’s best to study general psychology first, but studying a course such as Psychology with Counseling & Psychotherapy would be much more fruitful, as it still leaves a number of doors open in related areas – such as life coaching, mental health nursing, psychiatry and counseling.
Disclosure – I have teenagers who constantly need something and a husband who thinks items like race cars and boats are toys. So, throughout the blog you will find affiliate links that enable me to buy a bottle or two or three of wine to keep my sanity intact.