“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves.”
So…why is career planning so important?
Teenagers today have many choices and options as they plan for future careers. Many times, these options may not be as evident or clear-cut as they once were. As parents, you want only the best for your children, but with all the options available to young people today, oftentimes it is difficult for you to know what the best choices are. Without a solid career plan and concrete goals, it is easy for young people to get sidetracked and confused, and to end up no where near where they had hoped to be. In this website, we have provided some proven tools to help your teenagers avoid this pitfall, and to give them confidence as they plan for future careers.
Remember-the first step in career planning is self-understanding. Your child needs a good understanding of who she is, her interests, values, skills, and strengths before she starts thinking about a future career. This website has referenced several on-line career interest inventories that she can take and has also provided an assessment (remember Career Check?) to help her understand where some of her interests may lie.
After your child has engaged in several self-assessment activities and feels reasonably comfortable about who she is, encourage her to learn all she can about careers that are in line with her interests. Encourage her to talk to professionals, participate in all types of work-based learning experiences, and to get first-hand knowledge about jobs in which she may be interested.
Also, help her to understand that in today’s job market, having the right technical skills is only one small part of the big picture. Employers are looking for people who can think through problems, work as part of a team, adapt to new circumstances, be creative and innovative, and add value to the company. These skills are not learned in the same way as we learn how to drive a car or use a computer keyboard. Learning these types of skills involve embracing an entirely new mindset which accepts the ambiguity and instability of the modern workplace as well as the excitement and opportunity that it offers.
Third, once your child has a good understanding of who she is and what she wants to do in a career, only then should she start thinking about college or other routes to achieve her goal. Remember-college should never be a career goal, but a means to achieve a career goal. Encourage your child to research post-secondary options to choose the best program of study for her career goal. Of course, you know that your child should not choose a college based on its school colors or how good the football team is. Many times, however, college-bound students choose colleges based on reasons that are just as unrealistic, such as where their friends are going or how pretty the campus is. Today, college is much too expensive to have your child come home after four years, unemployed and with no marketable skills. So encourage your child to have a focused career goal and a well-developed plan for how she will achieve that goal.
And finally, remember that today’s workplace is much, much different from the workplace of thirty years ago. A four-year college degree is no longer the ticket to success, and many jobs that offer great pay and opportunity do not require a four-year degree. But, these jobs do require specific skills and training beyond high school. We encourage you, as a parent, to learn as much as you can about the many options available for young people today.
Focus on your children first: Who are they? Where do they want to go? How can they get there? Then, do everything you can to help them get where they want to be.
Please visit us again and we wish you and your child the very best in your journey toward a rewarding and exciting career in the 21st century!
“Go confidently in the directions of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”
--Henry David Thoreau