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12 23Fri04252014


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Back Helping Your Child Succeed Help your children explore their career options

Help your children explore their career options

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FOR most parents of teens their children's career choices are the furthest thing from their mind. However, the earlier your children start thinking about their future careers, the more time they will have to explore the many options that are available to them. Career exploration should begin around middle school, and continue through high school, and even into college. Parents need to encourage and help their children explore career options. Below are a few suggestions to help you get started:

Step 1: Self-assessment

Have your children gather information about themselves such as their interests, aptitudes, abilities, personal traits, work values and desired lifestyle. This information will be used to assist them in making a decision about a career.

Parent Tip: Find out their likes and dislikes. Have a discussion with your children about their favorite subjects and extracurricular activities. Are they passionate about a certain subject or hobby? Suggest career opportunities that might complement their interests.

Step 2: Exploring career options

During this step, your children will investigate the world of work in greater depth. They should identify potential careers, gather information about those careers, and match the career information with the results from their self-assessment. Have your children investigate career entrance requirements such as education and training, as well as requirements for specific skills and experience.

Parent Tip 1: Allow your child to explore ideas freely. Avoid saying negative remarks about careers in which your children may be interested. Even if you think your children have unrealistic dreams, you should encourage them to find out more about what the job involves.

Parent Tip 2: Advise your children to use a career planning system. A career planning system can help your children select one or more career paths to explore by matching their interests, skills and work values. Through this system, your children can create career portfolios and update career information as their skills and experience expand.

Step 3: Relevant/practical experience

After the self-assessment and exploration of career options, your children should begin to evaluate their occupational choices and gain practical experience. This can be done through internships, cooperative education, relevant summer employment and volunteer work. At the end of this step, more specific decisions about occupational choices can be made.

Parent Tip: Have your children volunteer or intern in different fields. Your children need to get as much hands-on experience as possible in order to decide if they like a certain career. Help your children find internship or volunteer opportunities where they can work in a variety of fields. For example, they can volunteer at a veterinarian clinic or G.A.I.N one month, and the next month they can intern at a radio station.

Finding the right career fit is important for a lifetime of happiness. Work with your children on career planning so they can find a career about which they are passionate, and is the right fit for their personality and interests. Finally, remind them that if they find a career that they love, it will not feel like work, ever.

Elizabeth Hamilton, M.Ed, MA, is a teacher with 24 years of professional experience. You can write to her at successfullearner[at] with your questions or comments.

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