Career choice for teenagers is difficult! There is so much uncertainty surrounding that decision and it’s impossible to be 100% sure that the decision will be right. What if they make the wrong choice and have to start all over again?
Your teenager may not be sure what suits them best or fully aware of the exact day-to-day activities of a particular job.While they can never be certain, there is much a teenager can do to reduce this uncertainty. The key is Research.
With the Central Applications Office (CAO) for universities and colleges opening for registration this month, the focus of these tips are for academic courses. Here are 7 tips to help get those teenagers started on their career choice:
1. Use favourite subjects as a guide
What does your teen already know about themselves? They know their favourite subjects and hobbies. Or if they are practical or more academic? Gather all the information together that they know about themselves to begin. Likewise, you as the parent can help them work out there skills and talents as you have been observing them for all their lives and have seen how they have developed.
2. Process of elimination
A good place to start the next step, especially if the teen has no idea what to choose, is to go through the Prospectus (book or online) of any of the Universities. Starting at the department level (sometimes called Schools, eg School of Business), eliminate anything that is completely of no interest. For example, your teenager’s favourite subjects at school may be science based and they know that they are not interested in the Arts. Eliminate this department from the list of further research.
3. Shortlist Careers/courses of interest
Within the departments that may be of some interest, look through the list of courses in that section. Note any course of interest. A handy tip here is to keep a note of the course CAO code and full title so that it can be easily found again – believe me, it can be like looking for a needle in a haystack to find that course again.
4. Attend Open Days
Check out the open days for courses of interest. Many open days are held right through out the academic year, some in person and some online. It can be tricky to keep track of them all so it is essential to find out the ones of interest and mark them in the calendar. Do note that different departments of the one university hold their open days at different times so make sure you are attending the right ones.
5. Speak with people already in those careers
If you can, find people who are already in those careers or similar. You may have a family member or friend who works in similar jobs to what your teen would like to do. Or reach out into your extended network to find someone. Most people are happy to speak to a youngster to help get them started.
6. Choose general/common entry courses
These apply mostly in engineering or business courses where the intake in 1st year is common to various types of engineering and in 2nd year the student branches out into a speciality of choice. I’s a good way for the student to get exposure to the various streams of engineering or business before taking making that decision. However, with engineering, not all branches are covered in the general intake courses, example electronic engineering, so the student will have to ensure that the general intake course will get them where they want to go.
7. Remain open-minded to new courses and careers
Finally, new careers are being invented all of the time as technology advances. Just because you may not have heard of it, doesn’t mean that is not a good option. If your teenager suggests something that you haven’t heard of before, take some time yourself to research it and see how that career would suit your child. Likewise, your teenager may not have heard of newer careers or courses and is defaulting to the traditional careers such as medicine or teaching. Encourage them to explore different options before making a firm decision.
With these tips, it is important to remember that career choice is a process and one that takes many iterations. The more research that you can do without reaching overwhelm, the better. While the CAO will open for registration this month, students will have until 1st July next year to make a firm decision except for those applying for Restricted courses – courses that have additional assessment procedures such as portfolios or psychological assessments, etc. Check the CAO website for more details.
And lastly, if your teenager is still struggling to choose, maybe it’s time to engage an external 3rd party through careers coaching. Sometimes, teenagers don’t want to listen to their parents or they are not getting enough direction at school. Check out my coaching programme for teenagers to help them through this process.
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