New Year, new era - 5 ways to help your teenager prepare for their future beyond school

16 December 2016 | Advice for Parents | Guest Author

Is 2017 the year your teenager will be leaving school to join the world of work, or deciding how and where to pursue their further education?

Then here are five tips for helping your teen prepare for the next chapter in their lives:

1. Listen

If it hasn’t already, there is a conversation to be started now with your teenager about what the future holds for them.

And this conversation needs to involve a lot of listening from you, their parent or guardian, and by other important people in their lives.

Where does your teenager’s passion lie? What are they real strengths? Where will happiness reside for them in the future?

You may have some very strong ideas about what would be the best path for your child to pursue but they will have the best chance of success following their own aspirations.

By listening to your teenager now, you’ll be able to work with them and help guide them to achieve a successful transition into the next step of their life.

2. Research

Now is the time to build your arsenal of resources for the coming year.

Find out what sort of careers guidance and support your child’s school or college will be offering. Look over any materials the school or college provides. Identify any gaps in the input.

Research online the sorts of career and education opportunities there are now and, working with your child, start to narrow down the fields of interest and opportunity based on your teen’s aspirations and key strengths.

Find out which employers offer the job and training opportunities that would suit your teen, or the universities which offer the most fitting courses.

Observe what sparks the most interest in your teenager, find out what grabs them and gets them motivated to help steer their course.

3. Encourage work experience or volunteering

Academic achievements only tell part of the story to an employer about what a person can contribute to their organisation. Employers also need to see evidence of skills, qualities and experience that grades just don't illustrate.

That is why it is so important that your teenage undertakes some up kind of work or volunteering opportunity. By holding down a Saturday or holiday job or volunteering regularly at a club or society, teenagers can acquire and then demonstrate a number of key qualities which will help them secure a full-time job in the future:

  • Commitment
  • Reliability
  • Punctuality
  • Team spirit
  • Leadership
  • Strong work-ethic

You can help your teen achieve work or a volunteering experience through:

  • Tapping into your own network of friends and family with work contacts to find a placement
  • Helpful input into application letters and forms
  • Investment in suitable clothing and footwear
  • Travel to and from work
  • Support and encouragement to see it through 

4. Social media audit

It is becoming standard practice for employers and universities to research prospective recruits on social media. They can find out a lot more than an interview or assessment day can ever reveal.

Social media is an integral part of most teenager's lives and will continue to be. They don't have to stop engaging on it but they can manage who sees their activity and they can start to censor their own content.

Encourage your teenager to use privacy settings to control which audiences can see what. Advise them to update their profiles to, at a minimum, give an inoffensive impression and, at best, to give a positive one.

Suggest to your teen that they give a second thought to whatever they post. Recommend they do a review and see if there is anything which could or should now be deleted as it could give a bad impression.

Remind your teen that this short-term pain is for the long-term goal of them pursuing a career they actually enjoy and can excel at, can make money from to achieve their goals, and that your suggestions are not intended just to rain on their parade!

5. Book to attend a Careers Fair

There is so much research and work which can be done from behind a computer screen, but there is no substitute for getting out and meeting employers and further education institutes face to face. A careers fair is the perfect place to achieve an awful lot research and guidance in one place and in one day.

An event like What Career Live? and What Uni Live? brings course providers and employers under one roof. Your teenager can learn about training and apprenticeship opportunities offered by employers right from the horse's mouth, and will even be able to talk to other young adults who have pursued this option already.

As well as hearing about the very latest job openings and recruitment drives, they can also gain the valuable experience talking to potential employers outside of the stress of an interview situation, therefore boosting future confidence.

If further education is the route your child will be pursuing then such a fair is a great place to meet with several universities in a really time-efficient way, gathering prospectuses, talking to students of each institution and learning about the courses on offer. This may help them narrow down the list of universities they actually need to visit prior to applying. There's also guidance from independent parties on the cost of going to uni so the reality of what it means.

And, for those teens for whom the decision on uni verses direct to work after school is still wide open, then What Career Live? and What Uni Live? can give them all the information they need on both routes in one place!

You can find out more and register for What Career Live? and What Uni Live? here.

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