As teenagers go through a stage in life of exploration, self discovery and dreaming of the future, they'll look to many different sources to find ideas, validation, and support. Especially when it comes to deciding on and pursuing a career, teens frequently look to their parents. In fact, according to a study by Ferris State University, 78% of high school students say parents are their biggest career influence.
That’s exciting news and also a big responsibility for parents! To help, we’ll be sharing a series of blog posts with ideas for parents and students on how to cultivate and achieve successful careers and futures. Here are a few ideas on how parents can coach their students in career planning.
Help fuel the dreaming process by asking the right questions.
- If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?
- Which of your hobbies and passions could you see incorporating into a job?
- Do you think you’d like to work with lots of people at a big company? Or would you ever want to work for yourself and your own business?
- Where would you want to work? In a city? Outside in the country? At a desk? On the phone?
- How much money would you imagine yourself making once you’re older?
The goal here is to get students to be thinking about career ideas while also day dreaming about all of the other exciting opportunities in life, like traveling, owning a cool car, or starting a family.
Encourage and aid teenagers in deeply discovering and knowing themselves.
The question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is oftentimes incredibly overwhelming for young people and can put unnecessary pressure on a student to figure that out before an appropriate time.
Instead of figuring out what they want to be, students should spend time discovering who they are.
Before they can ever become a CEO, a young person first needs to determine that they are a passionate leader. Before they can ever work as an accountant, they need to enjoy being meticulous, detail oriented, and dedicated.
Discovering oneself takes a lifetime and is always a mystery and endeavor of both turmoil and joy. Young people can first begin to fully discover their values, motivations, worth and value in a number of ways - clubs, sports, religious practices, international travel, volunteering, a first job. Though self discovery can only be done by the individual, parents can play a big role in helping students discover their values and passions in life.
Introduce other “wise counsels” and advisors into the conversation about career planning.
Hearing only mom or dad’s advice and input can get a little tedious and boring for teenagers. Sometimes they simply need a different voice or perspective to help guide them towards planning for the future. Parents can help introduce the conversation of career planning between their student and other successful adults.
“Hey son, did you know that Uncle Tim here used to work for the fire department as a truck driver? I bet he has lots of cool stories he could share with you.”
“Carol, you have a friend who works as an administrator at the hospital right? My daughter is interested in that type of field, do you think your friend could talk to her about that?”
Parents should allow their teenagers to discover and build relationships with their own mentors and role models, while also guiding them towards people who will be a good influence in their life.