Navigating a career path is a tough gig for young people these days with seemingly more choices than ever.
Here are our 8 top tips to support your child in their career path.
1. INSTIGATING THE CAREER CHAT
When having the ‘career-path’ conversation with your child, make sure you set aside allocated time and engage in ‘active listening’. This involves being completely present, listening to what they say but also how they say it. For instance, signs of emotion (excitement in their eyes or a suddenly animated tone) or the use of emotion-words like ‘I love it when…’ or ‘I feel sad for…’ These clues allow you to ask further questions that can help your teenager explore what kind of work they may be interested in. Focus on their skills, hobbies and passions and encourage them to choose a career that plays to their strengths and what they like to do. Their school careers advisor is a great person to talk to about this as well, whether they do this alone or have you on board for support.
2. IT’S ALL ABOUT THEM, NOT YOU
So perhaps a small minority of parents may start to reminisce about what could have been their dream career path (once upon a time) and fall into the dangerous belief that their child could fulfil that lost dream for them. This is no good for anyone, parent or child. Another trap is trying to influence career choices that are less about their happiness and more about impressing your friends – ‘oh Johnny has just enrolled in Biochemical Engineering at “Some Snooty-Nosed Exorbitant Fees’ University”. ‘Whoop-di-doo-da’, you should say to that (perhaps to yourself). It’s important to leave your own ambitions aside during this exercise and focus on their happiness.
3. RESEARCH PEOPLE THEY ADMIRE
You can talk to them about your career path and what it was like for you but just remember that they are most likely typical teenagers and striving to be as far not you as possible. If you honestly can’t help yourself, keep it really short – like ‘I started as the site cleaner and over time worked my way up to site manager’. Another option is to research people they admire – they are sure to be inspired by the often surprising twists and turns a career path can take. Here are just some celebrities who started their careers completely differently.
4. NEVER DISMISS AN IDEA
Never dismiss a career path choice they are considering (with words or your body language). For example, if they say they are interested in becoming a hip-hop dancer or a video-game animator, it’s best not to roll your eyes or sigh. Instead, ask them further questions like ‘what kind of training will you need to become that?’ or ‘what interests you about that work?’ They may then do further research and either decide it is not for them or find career possibilities that are similar to their initial interest, for instance stage production or software development. They could also go on to a leading role in ‘Step Up 10 – All the Way’! The moral to this tip is, step out of their way…
5. CAREERS EXPOS
Take them to careers expos – they can gather heaps of information from people who are there purely to talk about industry careers. You can often try-a-trade on the day (even virtually) and you will bring home heaps of informative brochures and loads of free give-away merchandise. So all-in-all, it’s not a bad day out.
6. VOLUNTEER OR WORK EXPERIENCE
Encourage them to volunteer or find work experience – not only does this give extra kudos on their resume, volunteering or work experience can give them early insight into the working world, teaching them valuable skills like working in a team and making a positive impact.
7. TO LEAVE OR NOT TO LEAVE? THERE ARE OPTIONS
Not everyone enjoys the school system, for various reasons. If your teenager wants to leave school before completing Year 12 there are plenty of other learning options that can still get them either into university or onto a rewarding career, including TAFE or other Registered Training Organisations. They could also head straight into the workforce with the options of gaining industry training through an apprenticeship or traineeship. Before contemplating leaving school they may also consider a school-based apprenticeship or traineeship which will provide them with practical, real-world work experience (which some school students may prefer over the classroom environment), while still undertaking their schooling part time. Many students have found that a new sense of career and workplace direction has renewed their confidence and happiness at school.
8. LOOKING FOR WORK
Whether they are at school, university or looking for a part time or full time job, they are going to need help with their resume, job applications and interview skills. We’ve got loads of handy tips and resources to support their success.
As they say, the path to success is never a straight line. Watching your child throughout their career is likely to bring some of the most rewarding parent moments you can have, and the support you provide now can contribute to setting them on the right path forward.