Talking to your teen about career choices and career planning can be a daunting task.
You don’t want to push your child into something they don’t like and they’re not interested in.
Maybe guiding your teen through the process of choosing a career path is completely foreign to you. You don’t know what to say, how to approach the conversation, or what advice to give—especially if you’re in a situation where your employment is unstable or you don’t enjoy what you do.
But you want more for your child—you want them to be successful and enjoy their career.
It’s possible, isn’t it?
Hang tight while we give you the low-down on how to talk to your teen about their career choices.
Here’s what we’re going to cover: (each bullet point should link to the subheading section)
- First, Let’s Take the Pressure Off
- Lead By Example
- Invite Family and Friends Into Your Home to Talk About Their Careers
- Encourage Your Teen to Learn About Careers by Volunteering
- Participate in Extracurricular Activities
- Explore Careers by Reading Biographies
- Encourage Your Teen to Take a Class They’re Curious About
- Attend College and Career Fairs
- Read a Career Planning Book
- Find a Best Career Fit with Prism Career Mapping
- Final Thoughts on Talking to Your Teen About Their Career Choices
First, Let’s Take the Pressure Off
Nothing scares a teenager more than when they’re told they have to decide right now what they want to do with their life—while they’re still in high school!
As parents, most of us didn’t have a clue at their age. Why would they?
Plenty of students feel nervous about the future. Let’s avoid worsening the pressure by constantly asking them what career they want to pursue.
Instead, your responsibility is to make the career conversations safe for your teen.
Having these conversations with your teen is important, but it’s not the only way to guide them in their career journey. Help them discover what career path they want to take by engaging in different activities.
Lead By Example
You’re the first and biggest role model in the life of your child.
How you talk about your job or career will influence them, whether or not you’re aware of it. They’re watching you. They’re listening to your verbal and non-verbal cues.
If you find yourself complaining often about your work, perhaps it’s time to consider a new career. It’s worth including your child in this process only if it would be helpful to them and you. They need to see that sometimes finding a career you love takes time and that they don’t have to settle—they have choices.
If you love your job, tell them why. What do you love about it? How does it make you feel? What do you love doing the most in your work?
The biggest take-away is to be aware that you’re setting an example that you want your teen to follow.
Invite Family and Friends Into Your Home to Talk About Their Careers
Do you have a mentor, friend, or family member who loves what they do for a living? Invite them to your home to talk about it!
The beauty of this approach is that your teen will gain exposure to a wide variety of fields—from sciences to administration to trades to art to mathematics and many more. There are likely jobs they hadn’t considered before or even knew existed!
It will also give your teen an opportunity to ask your guest questions. What does the job entail? What experience and education did they pursue? What lifestyle do they have as a result of their career? What are the highs and lows of their job?
It can be encouraging and inspiring for a teen to see someone excited about what they do for a living.
Encourage Your Teen to Learn About Careers by Volunteering
Volunteering is a fantastic way to acquire experience and transferable skills, and potentially be offered a paid job. It can also provide insight into the job itself and help your teen discover things they enjoy and are good at, and things they don’t want to get better at and don’t enjoy.
There are organisations in Australia that will hire students from high school. Most employers are happy to give their volunteers assistance because they recognize the value of being able to teach a student and then potentially hire them to fill a future need.
Teens can also develop skills and experience by volunteering within their community, such as the theatre, wildlife programs, agricultural programs, and human rights causes.
Participate in Extracurricular Activities
Does your teen love football?
Is hitting the drums their thing?
Are they in their happy place when painting?
Extra-curricular activities can help teens discover talents and interests that will help them along their career journey.
Explore Careers by Reading Biographies
Sometimes we think a celebrity’s rise to fame was an overnight success.
Reading their biography can quickly dispel this crazy myth.
When we read the biographical details of a person we admire, we can come to understand their journey. We see the forks in the road they had to choose, the challenges they had to overcome, the mistakes they made, the people who helped them along the way, and so much more. We get a glimpse into what happened behind the curtain that led them to the success we all now see.
Encourage your teen to read the biographies of people they admire and careers that they would like to have. It will help to educate them on what’s required to achieve certain milestones along a particular career path and give them an idea of the work involved. It can also serve as a reminder that patience and time are necessary as they work through any career they choose to pursue.
Encourage Your Teen to Take a Class They’re Curious About
Interested in learning to weld?
Wondering what it would be like to take sign language?
Always wanted to learn to paint like John Olsen?
Teens don’t have to be limited to the choices their school offers. There are many opportunities for them to take a class online or within their community in an area that they’re interested in learning more about.
Attend University and Career Fairs
University and career fairs offer many useful resources all in one place.
Plus, for those teens that might be intimidated by visiting a school, fairs can be much less threatening.
Read a Career Planning Book
For those teens who prefer to read books or listen to audio books, career planning books can be a good alternative to help them explore the types of careers that would best suit them.
A few of our favourites are:
- Career Match: Connecting Who You Are With With What You Love To Do by Shoya Zichy and Ann Bidou
- The Career Toolkit: Essential Skills for Success that No One Taught You by Mark A. Herschberg
- What Color Is Your Parachute? Your Guide to a Lifetime of Meaningful Work and Career Success by Richard N. Bolles
Find the Best Career Fit with Prism Career Mapping
PRISM Career Mapping is a scientifically validated neuroscience-based instrument that underwent a two-year study at Stanford University. It identifies the behavioural preferences that directly relate to personal relationships and work performance and matches preferred work aptitudes and behaviours to potential careers.
Research shows that teens whose interests match their occupation and activities find greater satisfaction, are more productive, and have higher levels of motivation.
After completing PRISM Career Mapping, teens have clarity on what their career potential is and can work to complement their current studies with career aspirations that light them up!
Final Thoughts on Talking to Your Teen About Their Career Choices
Stay open-minded and relaxed while talking to your teen about their thoughts on their future career. Your calm demeanour and encouragement can go a long way in helping them navigate the complexity of the thousands of career options available to them.
Keep calm and carry on!