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Helping Your Child Choose a Career

Updated on October 5, 2014
Source: Morguefile
Source: Morguefile

By the time your child reaches his or her teen years, you likely will know their talents and abilities, interests and special skillsets. This can help you – and them – as they explore potential careers.

While the standardized tests we take in school may help, some find it doesn’t offer any relevant help when it comes to choosing a career. They may be approaching the latter years of high school without a clue what they want to study. If that’s the case in your house, it’s time to become proactive.

Your child likely will choose a career after experiencing it at some level. It may start with a recognition that they are excellent at math, and especially enjoy math class. Or that they love to read and excel in English class. But if your child performs similarly in all of his classes, and expresses no strong inclinations, you’ve got homework to do. It looks like he or she will need a broader base of experience to make that important decision!

As a parent, this is where you can help. You can do a Take Your Child to Work Day. Let them see firsthand what your job is like. You can set them as volunteers in career fields in which they may be interested. Some high schools offer community service hours; some require a certain number of them. It looks good on college applications to have these service hours.

Beyond that, they’ll be observing others around them, like the doctors and nurses when they go to the physician’s office. That teacher in the classroom. That librarian, that dentist.

Although it’s not your job to decide, as a parent you are a person of influence. Set the stage for their success in a career they can be positive about. Build that experience base now, in their teen years.

Using What You Know

Just because you are a teacher or librarian doesn’t mean your child wants to become that. Just because you have an unfilled dream to be a writer doesn’t mean your child want to become a writer. So, push your personal preferences aside.

Sure, you want them to be successful. You want to see them have enough money to support their own family. But don’t encourage a child to become a doctor or lawyer for that reason alone. Not everyone wants to be doctors or lawyers. Not everyone can commit to the long hours of studying and years of schooling. Not everyone has the right personality. If they’re pushed into the wrong career, they can be miserable – if they even make it through school.

What you know – that might really be helpful – is what you’ve observed about your child. Maybe he or she has excellent leadership skills. Maybe he or she is a great people person. Maybe he or she has an uncanny ability to sculpt. To read maps and give directions, even at a young age.

You have insight. You have clues that can help them as they explore potential careers.

Talk to you child about what they might be interested in trying out as a potential career. Discuss their hobbies and any potential careers they can develop through them. Be realistic about earning potential.

Putting it All Together

Sit with your child and talk about how they can combine their interests and talents in a career that will support them through life. If they love oil painting, talk about how difficult it might be to make living as an independent artist. Talk about art-related career fields. Art as a lifelong hobby, or sideline.

Encourage your child to explore possibilities by joining a high school club in the area of interest, if it is available. Arrange for them to talk to people you know who are active in those careers. Explore the possibility of volunteering in the career field. Get service hours if you can. Consider a summer position in an entry level job within that potential career field. If they are thinking about a career in medicine, they can volunteer at a hospital or doctor’s office, for example. Explore different office careers through a temporary help agency; these short-term assignments can give them an exposure to different types of work while they earn money as a clerk or secretary.

It's time to wake up. (Source: Morguefile)
It's time to wake up. (Source: Morguefile)

Does your high school senior know what he or she wants to do after graduation?

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Crunch Time

As your child approaches high school graduation, they should have some idea of what they would like to be. Unfortunately, not everyone does. It’s crunch time.

After high school, they may want to attend college. But what will they study? You may not want to pay for them to enroll in General Studies. Yet college is an important stepping stone toward their independence and success in a career.

It’s time to step on the gas. Step up your exploration activities. Consider an assessment test and career networking. It’s time to make a decision. While they can sit out of school, they will be behind their peers who continue.

Those who chose to work instead of continuing their education still will benefit from a career assessment. They will begin building their base of knowledge in a career they can enjoy. They will become acquainted with potential mentors and references. They will be ahead if they know what they want to do.

A Career to Be Passionate About

Everyone has special talents and abilities. We are unique. We have something special to offer to our world. I don’t believe job has to be a drudgery. We can wake up in the morning excited about what the day will bring.

If we take the time, and search deep into our hearts, I believe we all can discover a career we can be passionate about. It shouldn’t stop with the recognition that yeah, we like art and can make bucks selling our oil paintings. A thorough study of potential careers should include its earning potential -- now and later. It should consider the potential for rapidly changing technology to drastically alter that career at some point.

You, as a parent, are in a great position to help your child be realistic. To point them in the right direction so they don’t make a critical mistake. If they really love art, maybe they should teach it. Maybe they should be trained in business so they can run a gallery. Or work in a museum.

Encourage them to build flexibility into their learning plan so they can adapt to whatever changes the future brings. That may mean a double major, or strong major-minor combination. It may mean a master’s degree that broadens their career prospects.

Cheryl Rogers
Cheryl Rogers

Meet the Author

Cheryl Rogers knew she wanted to be a writer as a child. Because she loved to read Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy mysteries, she discovered her passion for writing. When a temporary agency sent her back to her college for an assignment in the Personnel Office, she recognized her interest in helping people find their niche in life.

She has been assisting her children to discover a career they can be passionate about. Now she is happily combining both interests as she writes about careers -- to help others find their niche.

Cheryl also has written a number of ebooks including her Bible Camp Mystery series featuring Chet Harrigan, a former New York gang leader turned youth pastor. He takes his group of 10- to 16-year-old boys to the Central Florida backwoods to seek God. They encounter biting insects, a potential hurricane, alligators, snakes and more as they learn to live by faith. The titles in the series include Lost in the Woods: A Bible Camp Mystery and Alone in the Woods.

She has written Fast Track to Victory, A Christian Guidebook, a 40-lesson devotions book encapsulizing biblical principles for new and young Christians. In a nondenominational format, the book teaches how to truly love and forgive others, why it’s important to set aside pride, how to deal with tragedy and death tnad lots more.

Learn more about Cheryl at her website.

Do you believe the standardized tests given in school can help your child make an educated career choice?

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