Exam results for 2016 are almost here. Does your teenager have clarity about their next step? Or even the motivation to make the decision? As their parent, should you help them and, if so, how should you go about this? Here are some answers.
1. Clarity can be achieved through following a three-stage process which involves your teenager in some self-assessment, exploring potential careers or work opportunities that are of interest, making decisions and taking action to begin the career journey. Self-assessment includes understanding skills, interests, values, personal qualities, strengths and weaknesses. Armed with this self-knowledge, it will be easier to narrow down potential careers or firms for further research or even people to talk to about their jobs. This will lead to some evaluation and decisions being possible on actions to start the first steps on their career pathway. 2. Impetus for making a decision can be facilitated through keeping the conversation alive with your teenager, involving your friends or family in talking about their career experiences, and helping your teenager realize that lots of unforeseen stuff will happen and therefore their first step will not be the last one they'll take. Having conversations with your teenager about your own career experience, or your friends doing the same, will help them develop their self-knowledge, self-belief, and interest in a particular direction. Because your teenager will probably be making decisions and changes in their career four to six times through their life, this first step doesn't mean they'll be stuck with their first study or work choice forever. 3. Whether it's facilitating part-time work opportunity, or asking good open-ended questions to help your teenager think things through, or suggesting on-line resources to explore especially about other teenagers' experiences, parents do have a valuable support role to play. Skills will be developed at school and also will be extended through part-time work so encouraging this opportunity will be valuable. Open-ended questions like: "Why are you interested in that subject?" "What do you think a day in the life of a (career) looks like?" will be more helpful and acceptable to them than offering your own opinions. Practical guidance and insight into other teenagers' experiences is readily available on-line (for example, look at www.careers.govt.nz). Your teenager is lucky if you, as their parent, can help them with their first career step. It's perfectly normal that they will be hesitant and you will want a right decision. Through exploration of self-awareness, opportunity awareness, and taking practical action, your teenager can create the foundation for their own career pathway, with a little help from supportive parents.