How to help your teen with career decisions

Even though this academic year has been messed by the outbreak of the Corona virus pandemic and schools had to close for most of the year, the government is doing everything to salvage what is left of this year.

Above this, matrics have a tough task ahead of them of having to choose a career path they would like to take and apply to a tertiary institution of their choice. Even though 2020 has been disrupted, they still have a chance to work towards achieving the marks that will allow them to progress in the career they have always dreamt of. Your teen, therefore, may be under a tremendous amount of pressure and stress, but you can help your child through the tough process of making a decision and making this process as smooth as possible.

Acknowledging your part
As a parent, you don’t know the amount of influence you have over your child. You might have your own ideas and feelings around careers and achievement but you don’t have to rub them off your child. They have a different ambition from yours. In order for you to support your teen in a way that will be conducive to them, you will need to acknowledge that although you would like your child to follow a certain career path, you will not force them into it but you will support them on the coarse they want to take. Forcing your child to follow a path chosen by you will add further pressure to the large amounts of stress they are already under.

Be supportive
You may be tempted to be critical of their choice, but there is no need to remind them every second you get. Your child is developing their own identity and is striving for independence. They are likely to be a lot more open to your support if they can sense that you see them as an individual with their own dreams and ambitions.

Ongoing discussion
Just as your adolescent is continuously working on their identity and sense of self, so is the process of their career decision making. In order for you to assist and support your teen, you should encourage ongoing discussion with them with regards to what is coming up for them. Your active listening skills may be particularly useful in this ongoing discussion.

Factors influencing career decisions, career fit and job satisfaction
Part of this ongoing discussion may be the numerous factors that influence an individual’s career choices, fit with their career and job satisfaction. It may be helpful to actively encourage your teenager to think about all the different factors. You should let them know that you are available for them to discuss all these things with you and to bounce ideas off you, so that they can make informed decisions. Some of these factors are:
Abilities – potential abilities with adequate training and development (aptitude).
Interests – what they think is interesting, what they like to do and what they may like to do.
Values – what they personally find important, for example, achievement, financial stability, being around or helping people, leadership, using their body or structuring their own time
Personality– does their personality match what they want to do? For example, will your child excel in the arts if they are an introvert?
Role in life – and the meaning they ascribe to their lives
Motivation– what drives them to want to follow this path. Are they motivated by the number of successful people in the field they want to follow?
Support – from their family, friends, teachers and community, and how much these people believe in their ability to build a specific career.