With people changing their job around 6 times between the ages of 18 to 24, it is a good idea as a parent to learn how to help your child choose their career path. Guiding and encouraging your kids during this new journey can lead to them choosing work that makes life more fulfilling for them.
There are so many new occupations emerging thanks to technology, so there really is something for everyone. Long gone are the days when you have to settle for any job. Read on to learn how to help your child with this decision.
Discover Strengths and Passions
When your child first starts considering a career path, you want to have him or her make a list of their strengths and skills. You might want to consider having your child take a few aptitude tests to see what their strengths are. A popular test is the Myers-Briggs test where you have a deeper understanding of yourself which leads to understanding what your strengths and skills are.
You also want to encourage your child or teenager to find what their passions are. For example, do they love helping people? Then, a career in the medical world like Nu Image Medical might be a perfect fit. Or do they want to make a difference through nonprofit work? Maybe your child is very good at fixing things and solving problems.
Truly the options are endless. The key is to figure out what makes them excited and what are they passionate about. Write down some of your own observations about your child’s strengths and passions, and brainstorm with them about what really makes them happy.
Something else you want to discuss is the goals that they want to accomplish in their career. Goals can include things like earning a certain amount of money, having a challenging job, helping others, making a difference, etc.
Does your child feel rewarded when they help others? Are they really creative and want to use that creativity to create something to bring to the world?
This step doesn’t have any right or wrong answers. The key is to understand what your child is thinking about their end goals with their career.
If you know someone that is already in the field that your child is considering or wants to explore, ask them if they are willing to discuss their industry with your teen or child. If you don’t know someone in the industry, then you can ask friends and family if they can recommend anyone in that specific field.
A mentor can really be an encouraging role model. Finding a great mentor can help fuel and elevate your child’s career aspirations. For example, in my career as a writer, I’ve had various other writers and authors encourage me in my journey.
It is important that your child understands that finding work you love is usually a long process of experimenting and self-discovery. Try to work as much as you can on skills that will help them no matter the career path they choose.
It can be daunting to consider a career when your child is only in junior high or high school. They may have no idea what they want to do when they grow up (as I struggled with). If this is the case, encourage them to keep their options open by pursuing courses that will allow them to get into university, and to keep asking questions about themselves and the world around them.
Be patient if your child makes the difficult decision to change paths. Always encourage them to continue learning more about themselves and who they are so that they can continue to grow into who they are meant to be doing what suits them best.
Encourage Your Teen to Find Their Tribe
You have probably heard the saying that you are the average of the 5 people you hang around with the most. Encourage your children and teenagers to choose their friends wisely because their tribe will make a difference in larger life decisions such as their career.
The people your child chooses to spend the most time with will also affect how big they dream, the opportunities they will look for, and what they will believe is possible. If you are setting a great example of choosing your own friends wisely, it will make it easier for your child to mimic your behavior.
Early on take the time to expose your child to different activities. This will help you see what piques their interest and what seems boring to them. Expose them to museums, nature, the arts, science, travel, people, etc. Reading biographies of famous people who did interesting things is also a good way to learn more about career options.
When you notice excitement about a subject, encourage them to learn more about that specific topic to see if there is more interest in it.
One of the best ways to truly know if you like something is via real-world experience. Look for an opportunity where your teen can do an internship, shadow someone during their workday, volunteer, or work a part-time job if they are old enough to legally do so.
For example, when I was a teenager, I had the opportunity to volunteer once a week with a local vet. While I enjoyed hanging out with the animals, I also realized that this wasn’t something I wanted to turn into a career.
This is the perfect way to gain practical work experience where they can discover what they like and dislike about the work environment they are considering. During this step, they will learn whether they prefer creativity or being told to do specific tasks. They will also learn if they like to work independently or on a team.
While your teen is looking for ways to gain work experience, they will also learn other career skills they will need in the future. Tasks such as filling out a work application, creating a resume, interviewing, etc. These are areas that you can help guide them with.
Make sure that you don’t take over and make your child’s first resume and fill out their application. Although this might be tempting it won’t benefit your child in the long run. You want them to own the process themselves so that they are more invested in their future.
Do Not Treat Your Child as an Extension of You
Sometimes it is easy to forget that your child is not you, they are their own unique individual. The things that you might hate about a certain job might be the things they love and enjoy doing. You want to resist telling them to avoid a certain career path if the only reason you are saying it is because you are not interested.
Ready to Help Your Child?
With our tips above we hope you are feeling confident about helping your child make the best possible decision about their career path. If your child decides to change their career at some point, please don’t think you failed them. It is very common to follow a career only to find out that it wasn’t the best choice.
During this entire process try to put yourself in your child’s shoes as much as possible. Think back to your first job and how you felt when you first started exploring your career. Share your own experience, including any mistakes or regrets you have, and take time to listen to your child’s doubts and questions too. Keeping an open conversation about this topic will help both of you as your child heads towards their future life.