HOW TO SUPPORT YOUR CHILD’S CAREER EXPLORATION
Part 1. Career Concepts to Share with Your Child
You want the best possible life for your child, and an important part of life is finding and excelling in a career. Parents have a big influence on how a child thinks about careers. Here are some ideas you might consider and try to instill in your child.
Here are four important ideas to share with your child:
Career exploration is important now. “In addition to working hard on your academics, let’s also focus on figuring out what career options might be a good fit for you.”
Parent Tip: Learning about career options will help your child make better choices about what education and training options are a good fit after they complete high school.
Keep career and education options flexible. “Let’s explore all the options for careers and different kinds of education and training. If four-year college is the best choice, let’s make sure it is informed by a career interest. But let’s also have a Plan B or C.”
Parent Tip: As a parent, it is important that help your student seriously start thinking about career options while they are in middle school and high school, and then help them decide on the best education and training options when they complete high school. Just remember, there is more than one path to career success and happiness for your child.
High school is perfect for career exploration, not making a final decision. “There is probably not one “perfect” job out there, so don’t stress about having it all figured out right now. “
Parent Tip: Today’s youth can get stressed out, trying to figure out the perfect career. That can lead to paralysis and shutting down. Youth need to take the pressure off and realize there many options that could be fulfilling. What’s really important is to learn more about your own likes, interests, and aptitudes, and the best way is to learn is by getting new experiences. The goal is to match up your personal interests and aptitudes with real career opportunities.
Career Navigation is a lifelong journey. ”Even when you find a good first career, you can’t just coast for the rest of your life. You’ll need to also be navigating your career to figure out where to go next and how to keep building your market value.”
Parent tip: Career navigation skills are something your child (and you) will need to use over and over throughout your adult life. Career planning is not a “one-and-done” activity. Encourage your child to realize that further navigation with the career field is absolutely necessary. That’s ok. Life is about facing challenges and growing through new opportunities.
Part 2. Help Cultivate Your Child’s Career Interests
Encourage your child to work hard and to finish high school.
In today’s world, earning a high school diploma is really essential to getting a decent job that can provide good on-the-job training and livable earnings. A high school diploma is also essential if your child wants to pursue any kind of additional college, training or apprenticeship programs beyond high school
Connect with your Student’s School Counselor.
Talk to a school counselor office and ask about the school’s career development program, what your child’s identified interests are, and what kind of activities and opportunities you should encourage your child to pursue.
Help you child explore and develop their career interests
When you find out the career areas that your child is exploring, try to find books, magazines, television shows, or on-line videos that might support that interest.
Uncover Career Contacts.
Brainstorm if there is anyone you, your friends or family members might know that work in the career field your child is interested in. When you start asking around, you might be surprised the contacts you discover. In whatever career field your child wants to pursue, building a network of contacts is an important skill and it is the best way to learn about a career and to find jobs.
Stay Involved During Course Scheduling.
Look at your high school’s course catalog to see what kind of elective courses, clubs and activities might relate to your child’s career interest. (Many high school course catalogs are being organized to emphasize career pathways.)
Look for Career-related Classes
Explore the program offerings at the local Career Technology Center (SUN Area Technical Institute) to learn about programs that may relate to your child’s career interests. 17 of the 18 programs at the technical school lead to postsecondary education programs, as well as preparing your child to get a well-paying job.
Find out about Online tools and websites.
Go online or use PA Career Zone to find career-related videos. Watch a few videos that might relate to your child’s areas of interest. After each video, ask your child:
- What did you like about what you saw?
- What did you not like?
- Could you see yourself working in that career? Why or Why not?
- What questions do I still have about that career?
Ask to have your child participate in a ‘job-shadow’ experience.
Your school district may be offering job-shadows for students, or you might be able to arrange job shadows yourself. This would mean having your child take off school for an afternoon, with prior permission, and visit a work-site and shadow a working professional to see what their work entails. Get extra credit for writing a short reflection, “what I learned about a career and myself at my job shadow.”
Encourage your child to have a “mentorship” or “internship” experience.
During junior and senior years, ask to have your child sign up for a “mentorship” or “internship” experience, where they spend 10-20 hours visiting a place of business, learning more first-hand about the business and the education and training pathways needed to access that career.