Advising your teen
As their parent or carer, you are likely to be the single biggest influence on your child’s thoughts and feelings about their future career. You are reading this because you care deeply about them having a happy and productive life. It is really important that you are aware of the influence you have and that you try your best to make this positive, supportive and empowering rather than negative, restricting and disempowering.
A good parent helps their teen the most when they:
- have a good general understanding of the options available
- listen carefully to their child’s views without being judgmental or critical
- are open to new ideas and possibilities
- encourage them to explore all their options
How can I help my child with their career plans?
These are some possible ways to consider:
- Talk to them from time to time about possible careers they might be interested in and why they appeal. Don’t make a big deal out of it. There will be plenty of opportunities for such an exchange of ideas that crop up naturally while you are doing something else. This way it won’t seem forced or patronising to your child.
- Consider doing an on-line, self-paced, video programme together with your teenager such as INSPiRED Teenager, which will teach them an all life career framework so they can manage their career effectively throughout the 50 years they will probably be working. This will help you both to have an up to date understanding of the world of work and career opportunities moving forward and has been designed by Carolyn Parry, our Lead Coach and the UK CDI Careers Adviser/Career Coach of the Year to stimulate career thinking and discussion between you so they can create the working life they want.
- Encourage them to take an interest in the occupations or past careers of grown up family members and other adults who they come into contact with so they can learn about different career experiences and develop their own network.
- Help them to explore the possible employers, apprenticeship providers and further education courses available in your local area. You should be able to find lots of useful information on these things on the web site of your local council. Keep an eye out for things like open days (at colleges and training organisations) and careers fairs held locally.
- Encourage them to participate in out of school activities. These are valuable in themselves and will help greatly later on in giving a good impression to people like employers or course tutors.
- Ask them about the help available in their school. Is there a careers library for instance? Are there careers programs they can access on the school’s computers? Are there careers lessons or special sessions related to the world of work, job applications etc?
- Some schools arrange for their students to complete a career interests questionnaire. Check whether this will happen with your child. If so, it is an excellent opportunity to start a natural, unforced conversation about their future options.
- If a careers adviser attends parents evenings take advantage of this opportunity to gather useful information and broaden out your child’s career thinking. Your teen may well find this a little embarrassing so hang back and give them the chance to ask their own questions in their own way.
- Encourage your child to seek advice when necessary from a careers adviser whether at school or private and encourage them to prepare properly for this discussion.
- Check whether the school has a formal work experience programme during Key Stage 4 or in the sixth form. If not, check out the possibility of arranging something yourself with work colleagues or friends.
Finally, remember that career choice is a personal decision.
Do not try to steer your child to a particular career because you think you know best or because it is a job you might like. When they choose a job, they get a life with it, so if you can help them to create a working life for them, they will be eternally grateful!