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The steps to helping your teenager decide on a career


Is your child interested in more than one academic topic? Or are they having trouble envisioning what lies ahead? If the answer is yes, you’re not alone in this! Choosing the right career in a world where everything is progressing by leaps and bounds can be challenging. Teenagers need guidance from their tutors, but parents shoulder responsibility for their children’s futures, too.

When you and your child are pondering careers, you have to balance subjectivity with objectivity. Given the ever-expanding possibilities for future careers, they may want a career that will satisfy tomorrow’s market needs. Or, maybe they’re fond of the arts and setting lofty goals.

Whichever your case is, the following aspects must be considered in this ever-evolving world, so let’s weigh them up.

Understanding what their ideal career is 

Most people begin exploring well-incentivized careers and try to follow professionals in that field. However, before deciding on your path, work with your child to identify potential and interests, and analyze what they like doing the most. For instance, if they’re tech-enthusiastic and would like to come up with new gaming ideas and develop platforms, they should consider a career in developing gaming software. Otherwise, if they have a passion for chemistry and would like to pursue a career in this field, they should attend some online courses. However, pay attention to the courses they’re choosing, as it is best to go with a tutor that prioritizes the quality of their chemistry teaching methods. 

Taking the pressure off 

Do you remember the pressure when you had to decide on your career? It can be bothersome, and nothing can be more frightening to a child that will soon leave their school than being told they’re running out of time to decide on what they will do for the rest of their lives. 

Students leaving school sometimes experience anxiety as they fight through the overwhelming feelings of deciding on a life plan. The expectation that your child should have it all figured out straight away will only put some weight on their shoulders, be unrealistic, and be potentially detrimental to their well-being. 

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Make it your job to create a safe space for your child with the following tips: 

  • Explain to them why it’s ok to defer and change their degree to something new if they further down the road decide they could’ve made a better choice
  • Encourage them to pursue their dreams and have high aspirations, reminding them that they may change several careers throughout life
  • Let them know nothing is pressuring them into sticking with the same career all their lives. 

Help them identify their areas of strength

A key step in guiding your kid toward the right career path is to help them identify their strengths. As a parent, you instinctively know your child’s abilities and weaknesses, as well as the areas they would master or not. You’ll make a difference by showing them what they’re best at and what circumstances they perform best in. 

It’s not about directing your kid, but about guiding them, and making specific career suggestions might cause them to feel boxed in and cloud their vision.

Give them your example 

You, a teenager, may give single-syllable answers when trying to communicate with them, which can be daunting. But even if they pretend you don’t exist, you remain the biggest role model for them and have a great power to positively influence their decisions. Instead of rushing to find ways to guide them towards a career, take time to consider how your work is setting an example for them.  

Youngsters are quite attentive and will notice how parents interact with their work, so build a profession you enjoy and do it with enthusiasm and integrity to set an example. 

What to ask your kid about their future 

If your teenager has a hard time envisioning where they will be in the future, it’s part of your responsibility to help them gain a clearer picture. This being said, it’s important to keep an open dialogue and gently encourage them to think things through. One way to facilitate this conversation is by asking thought-provoking questions about where they see themselves in ten years. Questions like the following can be thought-provoking:

  • “How important a role do you want your job to have in your life?”
  • “What do you believe to be the most rewarding aspect of work?”
  • “What activities from those you usually do bring you energy?”.

Mistakes to avoid when helping your teenager decide on a career path

One of the most common mistakes parents make is rushing their child into choosing a career. In today’s scenario, where metaverse and blockchain are bringing in sweeping changes and UX/UI, data science, finance, cyber security, and machine learning are on the rise, deciding on a career is a critical decision. Make sure they explore all their options and choose wholeheartedly.

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Parental pressure is another thing you should avoid, as it would only add up to your child’s stress. Many children can feel burdened by their parents’ expectations as some may lack the needed skills while others don’t identify with their caregivers’ values. Some teens are afraid to disappoint their parents, so they make detrimental choices for their happiness, only to discover later that they should’ve gone the other way around. The weight of the world shouldn’t be on your kid’s shoulders, so make it your responsibility to remind them of that. 

And last but not least, it’s important to remember that your child shouldn’t share your career goals or interests and allow them to pursue their dream.

Career exploration ideas

There are several proactive steps you two can take to discover the right career path. Often, these include introducing your teen to different career opportunities:

  • Volunteering. Many voluntaries allow your teenage to pick opportunities in their area of interest. On LinkedIn, for instance, you can find volunteer job openings or unpaid internships that can help them dip their toe in the career waters.
  • Shadow a professional. Many college career centers and high schools can help coordinate a professional shadowing visit. 

As challenging as it can be to guide your teenager when choosing a career path, it is also a critical milestone, so make it part of your responsibility and help them reach their goals.



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