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How to Choose a Career


What does your teenager want to do for a living and what’s the game plan for getting there? Some teens know how to choose a career as they have clear career ideas in their heads. Others feel anxiety as they realize that, in getting older, they must make some important decisions. Some simply don’t know what to do. Career planning simply is first figuring out “where you are,” and “what you want to be,” then developing a plan of “how to get there.”

Figuring out “where you are” consists of accurately determining skills and interests. High school guidance counselors can’t help students pinpoint these things through grades, test scores and career-planning surveys.

Once you have a sense of where your child is with skills and interests, compare those with the requirements of the career and then develop a plan to get there.

Somewhere in middle school or junior high, we need to introduce our children to careers and help them think trough how their skills and interests mesh with various jobs.

It may seem like a generalization, but people tend to succeed at things they love to do. A teenage girl who is driven to achieve results and can manage many tasks could be a future business owner or CEO.

You may want your child to be a doctor or lawyer, but your child will be happiest, and possibly more successful if he chooses a career that matches their own dreams and interests. Find out if your child’s school offers “Life Skills” or “Life and Family” classes that include career exploration components.

If you’re lucky, the school will have a strong guidance program or career guidance software to help teens assess their skills, interests and values, then compare them with various careers of interest.

Help your child decide on a career by finding all the career information you can. Check out career books at the library, visit web sites with career planning activities and encourage your child to talk with family, friends and colleagues with careers of interest.

If you’re a parent, you know that some children accept our ideas and some don’t. If your teenager isn’t receptive, have another adult open up a dialogue about the future. It could be a coach, a teacher, an aunt or uncle – someone who has the respect and friendship of your child.

Another technique is to have schools or organizations send information to your home in your child’s name. It’s another way of getting information into his hands without appearing to be “meddling.”

Good information is the first step to choosing the right career. It doesn’t matter if your child’s goal is to be a day care provider or a doctor – it takes the right information at the right time, plus the ability to make good decisions with the information. High school is a crucial time to begin the process of choosing a career that will enable a child to achieve their goals and live a satisfied and productive life.

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