How To Help Your Teen Discover Career Options Specific to Their Strengths

How to guide your teen to the best career options available to them.

As teens move through their junior and senior high school years, the pressure builds on what career options might be available. There are plenty of career options, but the trick is to help your teen sort through the myriad of choices for the one that best suits his or her strengths.

Strength-Based Learning: For a minimal cost, parents and/or teens can purchase the Clifton StrengthsFinder 2.0 available online. This particular resource is a well-researched evaluation/questionnaire that asks a series of time-sensitive questions designed to trigger your "first response". Without the luxury of over-analyzing every question, it's thought that this method hones in on your inner-most strengths. Being aware of your top 5 strengths can go a long way in making a decision on which career to pursue.

Evaluate Post Secondary Options: Not everyone can afford a university degree and that’s okay. Many people graduate from community colleges with highly-sought skills and knowledge that can take them from the classroom directly to the workplace. In fact, many community colleges offer articulation agreements with universities, making it possible for students to lower the total cost of their education, while working on a degree. To get the career, the teen is first going to need to get the education. Contact local universities and community colleges online or in person to see what they have to offer. Many educational institutions offer students the opportunity to “audit” or “test drive” a particular program. Also, ask about the college’s withdraw and refund policy. Schools will often allow a certain grace period for withdrawing from class with no monetary (or limited monetary) penalty.

What did all of those part-time jobs really mean? Talk to your teen about the part-time jobs they’ve held and what those jobs meant to them. Maybe your teen worked one summer as a lifeguard and absolutely loved it. In that case, it might be wise to think about a degree in physical education, for example. What about hobbies? Loves? Likes? The passion ignited in your teen based on their likes and dislikes can be a good launching pad for career options. A teen who can’t sit still may want to think about a job that requires physical labor. Someone who hates to be indoors might want to look at career options that bring them outside. Talking with your teen and pointing out their strengths, likes, and dislikes, is a good way to get them thinking about themselves.

The ever-changing career path. Although it might seem like a lot of pressure for teens to hone in on a single career path, remind them that careers and people in them are constantly changing. Years ago, people got a job and stayed with it until retirement. In today’s professional environment, it’s not unusual for people to change jobs many times. The trick is to help direct your teen towards a career path, or a series of career paths, that will inevitably be right for him or her. With a little discussion and strengths building, the path to a happy career will be much easier to determine.

 SOURCES:; I also work for a Community College as a Training Coordinator and I'm aware of the different ways (auditing classes; test driving programs) that students can gain further information on training.


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Lisa Theriault
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Posted on Nov 18, 2010
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Posted on Nov 15, 2010