Career planning for teenager’s can be scary. There are many resources both within schools and on the internet designed specifically to help students think about life after school. However, the volume and scope of information is often intimidating and could cause some to stick their head in the sand, leading to a sort of analysis paralysis.
The holidays are upon us, which brings additional challenges, however parents should set aside some time to offer advice and guidance to their teenager. Contrary to popular opinion, most teenagers are receptive when encouraged to think boldly about life beyond New Year’s Day.
What can be done to provide the right guidance to meet your child’s continuing needs – academic, emotional, aspirational? As parents, you have worked tirelessly over the years to support your child at all the stages of their development and despite their protests, parental support continues to be important at this stage. Here are a few steps that you can take to get your teenager to be proactive about achieving their career goals.
Start with a basic conversation
As with anything in life, the first necessary step is to gain a full understanding of the status quo. This should include your child’s thought process - where are they coming from, what things do they believe they can do, what are their priorities? This conversation will invariably cover many topics ranging from whether they enjoy studying through to their perception of working life. Don't overlook the importance of hobbies and extra-curricular activities. The conversation doesn't have to be long and will most likely be a series of short conversations. As discussions progress, they should be reflective rather than instructive. The objective is to get your teenager thinking about what he or she wants to do with their life.
Help them find and understand the soft skills that can be gained from work experience:
As the job market becomes more competitive, companies are increasingly looking for employees to have more than just grades and a degree. The soft skills and professionalism learned from work experience, regardless of the position or industry, are invaluable to your young person. You can help them find a list of local companies that would be willing to take on students for work experience. Help them draft query letters and prepare for job interviews. Friends and family are an invaluable resource, don’t forget to enlist their help.
Attending career fairs
The number of career fairs that target teenagers looking at apprenticeships and further studies after school is currently on the rise. Encouraging your child to book a place onto one is a worthwhile endeavour. At these fairs they will have the opportunity to talk to independent career advisors as well as representatives from a wide range of employers and academic institutes. Organisations attending the fairs will be able to answer questions such as what their organisation is looking for, what qualifications are required and the things they should be doing at school to make them more attractive to employers or universities.
These are just a few of the simple steps that can be taken to guide your teenager to producing a career plan. Although career planning is a long and detailed affair, taking simple steps in the right direction is enough to encourage even the most reticent teen.
Craig Poku, Alexander Partners, www.alexanderpartners.org.uk