As a teenager and student, it can be very difficult to determine your future career path. However, there are some things you can do to get a better idea of what you enjoy and shape your future based on those interests. In this blog, we’ll examine how to find those interests and gauge potential career paths.
Consider volunteer work
Volunteering is a great way to gauge your interests while also giving back to your community. It is beneficial because there are many ways you can volunteer, other than typical social work – for example, if you are interested in medicine, you can help as a medical assistant. However, specialized volunteering positions like medical practice can sometimes be selective – a better first step may be to enter a shadowing position to gain experience, then use that to enter more challenging roles. Either way, experiencing the job or field first-hand is a great way to gain relevant skills and learn more about your career in a risk-free environment.
Help them discover their strengths
While discovering a career is often a matter of interest, it is also essential to choose a career that aligns with one’s strengths. Helping your teenager determine their strengths (not just in the scope of school subjects, but also in terms of a career) is a great way to assess a relevant profession. A great way to help determine your teenager’s strengths is to be involved with them in their academic and extracurricular activities. Another way is to enroll them in relevant programs (business, social, etc.) that can help them find their interests and help you gauge their performance in a specific area.
Expose them to a variety of activities
To even find your teenager’s interests, or allow them to find those interests on their own, they have to be exposed to relevant activities that can help them determine what they enjoy. While this can mean enrolling them in relevant activities, the best way is to let them find and select their own activities to enjoy. This will help your child discover what they truly enjoy, and it will help you discern which of those activities your child excels in. Most importantly, you should ensure that you don’t limit what activities your teenager will experience.
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Remember this is about them – not you
Ultimately, deciding what activities your child enjoys or is naturally talented at is their decision and not something that you can easily steer them towards. As a result, you will need to help them find activities and decide for themselves if they actually enjoy them. It is often tempting to guide your teenager in a certain direction (as far as an activity or area of interest), but you will have to let them decide on your own.
Find a mentor
Finding a mentor in a relevant field is a great way to hone into a specific area of interest that is especially enjoyable for your student. For example, if your teenager is in high school or college, finding a professor in a department that your student enjoys (e.g., Business, Mathematics, Computer Science, etc.) will help them get a better idea of the industry. At that point, a mentor can help them specialize more into a specific division. In the long run, this will be a helpful tool to growing your students’ interests and giving them more perspective in their area.
Be patient and encouraging
Maybe the most challenging part of discovering your teenager’s career path is the patience it may require. Many students try out many activities, and they often switch between them quickly. While it may seem like an unnecessary back-and-forth process, switching between activities is an essential process to discover which activities your teenager doesn’t like. Eventually, they will be able to find what activities they enjoy and what careers align with them. Until then, you must encourage them to keep searching and have faith that they will eventually find that ideal activity.
Set a good example
As a parent, your teenager will look up to you even as a professional leader – they will likely gauge your interests and job as a way to find their own. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll simply adopt your hobbies; instead, they’ll look to your job as a reference to find what they do or don’t enjoy. In addition, you should be a good example when being patient in your own activities – for example, it would be a poor example to quickly switch between hobbies or not try out new activities. In the long run, as you continue to show your own inclination to discover your passion, your child or children will do the same.
Help them find their tribe
Finding a ‘tribe’ is a key part of your teenager finding their career path, or even just their broader interests. An important part of a career, aside from the work itself, is the common characteristics of those who are a part of it. Enrolling in relevant classes or summer camps can be a great introduction to the ‘tribe’ that your teenager may eventually join. While this isn’t a priority (an enjoyable activity may make it worthwhile to search for people who participate in it who are agreeable enough to work with), it is an important part of a career search. You can mirror this to your child by bringing home friends from work or activities to demonstrate how these people may differ.
Try a part-time job
Finally, a part-time job is the best way to truly experience activity in a real role. There are multiple ways this is possible – a summer internship or after-school job are both ways to try this. If that isn’t possible, engaging in a long-term project or contributing to an open-source or non-profit project/organization is another way to encounter real tasks. Either way, participating in a career as a job on the side can help your teenager get their feet wet and really experience the job that intrigues them.
Finding a career is an extremely important part of your child’s life – as a result, they’ll need your guidance in doing so. If you show patience and expose your child to many activities, you’ll be able to direct them towards a career they’ll truly enjoy.
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