“I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up!”
That’s a cry of frustration we mamas of high schoolers hear – often! I mean seriously, what 17- or 18-year-old knows what they want to be after high school??
(What 30-, 40-, or 50-something knows…. That is a different post!)
So, what can we do to help your teenager choose a career path? I have 5 great tips for you and your teen.
FIVE Awesome Tips to Help Your Teenager Choose a Career Path
Tip #1 to help your teenager choose a career path:
It’s time for some honest conversations. What do they love to do? What excites them, gets them out of the bed in the morning (ok, afternoon), makes them do actual research? What skills do they have?
Ask your kiddo. Assist them to write these things down. For example:
- I love to _________________________
- It makes me happy when I get to (or think about) ______________________
- I really enjoy finding more about ____________________
- I’m very good at ____________________________
It is hard to write these things, so you can prompt them some – but try to let them answer honestly! Encourage them to think about their answers (they can have multiple answers for each question) and remind them that they might change their mind.
And that is okay!
Give me a minute for a pet peeve, please! I really, really, really do not like to see parents force their kids into a specific line of work.
We have spent years with our kids, and yes we may know them quite well, but we aren’t God. We don’t have any idea what He has in store for our kids, or what direction their lives should go.
An example from my own kids: our middle kiddo always loved video games (you probably know where I’m going with this if you have a teen), and his “dream job” for a while was to work at that national retail gaming shop. Then it morphed into computer programming. But you know what? He still wanted to make video games.
He went to college for computer programming, got a great job, and guess what? He still wanted to make video games.
What does he do today? You got it, he creates and sells video games. How cool is that!
I will be honest and say that no, we did not support his idea back when he was a teen. I’ve learned a little bit since then.
Tip #2 in choosing a career – this one is for the moms:
How did you choose your profession? Was it something you knew you always wanted to do? Did you “fall” into it?
Do you even feel like you have a job?
Being a mom is a job! It really is. I teach at the community college, and in one of my assignments, we go over the top 10 questions asked at an interview. One is what is your greatest accomplishment – and I always tell my students that if they are a parent, that can definitely be their biggest accomplishment!
Don’t underestimate what you do, mom!
Our kids need to know that being a parent is an awesome job choice.
Tip #3 – you don’t have to go to college to have a career:
Attending college does not always equate to having a job! Lots of teens end up attending college and drift aimlessly. Some drifting is alright in my opinion. Let them explore their options and interests. Dual enrollment in high school is a great way to do this before graduating high school.
Besides going to college, discuss other options with your teen. They could get a job, have a gap year, go to a technical college, become an apprentice.
If they do want to go to college, be sure to read my post on the 10 things your kids should do in high school to prepare for college.
Don’t forget to PIN this for later!
Tip #4 – what to do when their career choice changes:
I am one of those people that if you say something is going to happen, that’s what I believe. If my kid says they’re going to be an electrical engineer, that becomes set in stone for me. I really struggle with this! How about you?
How can we stay flexible and realistic and help your teenager choose a career path?
- Remind them that it really is okay to change their mind. Grit your teeth if you have to but try to remind yourself too.
- Remember that many people major in a certain thing in college and don’t even work in that field (I found one study that said only 27% of people work in the field they majored in).
- Interests and job choices often change as our teens mature.
- Encourage them to shadow people in different jobs to get an idea what they really do. TV and movies do not portray these things realistically.
Tip #5 to assist our teen choose a career:
“Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” This quote, attributed to both Confucious and Mark Twain, is so true. I think the most important thing to consider in choosing a profession is to love what you will be doing.
As we are working with our teens to assist them to choose a profession, remind them to choose something they will enjoy doing every day! Of course, careers change throughout most people’s lives, but the basic core part should be something they are passionate about.
One more example from my kids: our youngest was going to college to work with the DEA. She is passionate about aiding people and really wanted to work in drug enforcement.
But college wasn’t really her thing. Jumping through the gen ed (general education) hoops was driving her crazy and being away from home was hard for her.
She ended up coming home and starting the EMT program at the community college here. It is a fast-paced course and a fast-paced job. Plus it meets her drive to assist people.
She is so happy! She loves that she’s combining the passions in her life and is continuing with more education in the field. What a blessing to see!
High school is an exciting time! It can also be full of anxiety about the future. Let’s help your teenager choose a career path by guiding them through choosing a career and showing them how to be flexible and realistic at the same time.
Remember mom, these teens are our blessings for a short time. We can help them fly!
This is a contributed post for the 2021 How We Homeschool Series.
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A big thank you to Jen Dodrill with History at Home for writing this guest post.
Hi, I’m Jen, a “retired” homeschool mom with 13 years of homeschooling under my belt. I love to help homeschoolers and educators of all kinds find great curriculum and learn more about educating our kids! I teach Oral Communication as an adjunct instructor, I blog at Jen Dodrill History at Home, and I write and sell curriculum at History at Home at TeachersPayTeachers & Boom Learning. When I’m not working, I’m spending time with family!