How to Help Your Teen Decide on a Future Career Path

Help your teen explore future career options.
Create opportunities for frequent conversations about your teen's plans for the future. Compassionate Eye Foundation / Getty Images

Although some kids know what they want to do when they grow up by the time they reach kindergarten, the vast majority of teens aren’t certain what they want to do after high school. If your teen has no idea what she wants to do, help her discover what type of career might be right for her.

Start the Conversation Early

Don’t wait until halfway through your child’s senior year before starting conversations about the future.

Instead, start talking about future aspirations early. High school can be a great time to help your teen explore a variety of career options, college majors and future goals.

If graduation is right around the corner, and your teen still isn't sure what she wants to do, don't panic. Instead, encourage her to take an active role in considering her future. 

Of course, many teens don't know what they want to do when they graduate. Taking a year off to work, or going to a college with an undecided major can give teens time to think more about what they want to do in the future.

Encourage Your Teen to Get a Part-Time Job

part-time job offers a multitude of benefits, Although getting a job flipping burgers might not seem like a great place for teens to explore their future aspirations, work is one of the best ways for teens to begin learning more about themselves. A summer job or part-time position could help your teen discover leadership skills or help her uncover hidden talents.

Help Your Teen Set Up a Job Shadow Experience

Deciding whether to be a police officer or a plumber is quite difficult when you lack experience in the working world. A job shadow experience can give your teen insight into what it's like to do various jobs.

If you have friends and family members who would be willing to let your teen job shadow for a day, set it up.

A first-hand look at what various occupations entail could give your teen valuable insight.

Seek Guidance from the Guidance Counselor

Guidance counselors can be a wealth of information about career opportunities for high school students. However, not all guidance counselors have the time or availability to speak with each student.

Encourage your teen to speak with her guidance counselor about available resources. Many guidance counselors have a variety of tools and assessments that can help teens discover possible careers that could be a good match for them.

Try a Variety of Career Exploration Resources

Fortunately, the internet offers a wealth of information about career exploration. Encourage your teen to conduct online research about various job opportunities and career paths.

Also, many local career centers offer a variety of information free of charge to help people explore various career paths. Assist your teen in setting up an appointment to learn how the career center can assist her in choosing a future career path.

Keep Talking About the Future

Avoid placing pressure on your teen to make a decision about what she wants to do after high school, but do keep the topic an ongoing conversation. Encourage her to share her dreams, passions and interests and talk about how she can build a career that will be exciting for her. Ask questions that will encourage her to open up and validate her feelings about the future.

If your teen has what you consider to be unrealistic goals, avoid lecturing her about why it won’t work. For example, if she thinks he’s going to become a famous athlete, talk about the pros and the cons of trying to develop a career as an athlete. 

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