12 Unique Career Choice Challenges Faced by Today's Teenagers
To gain a deeper understanding of the unique challenges today's teenagers face in making career choices, we posed this question to a diverse group of twelve professionals, including CEOs and Digital Marketing Managers. From the pressure to plan early affecting mental health to the shift in lifestyle work and unrealistic expectations, these experts share their insights into the evolving landscape of career decision-making for the younger generation.
- Pressure to Plan Early Affects Mental Health
- Remote Work Limits Networking Opportunities
- Social Media's Influence on Career Expectations
- Abundance of Choices Leads to Decision Paralysis
- Youthful Influencers Distort Traditional Success Views
- Information Overload Complicates Career Decisions
- Rapid Technological Advancement Poses New Challenges
- Globalization Demands Foreign Language Skills
- Pressure to Innovate and Create Opportunities
- Work-Life Balance Limits Career Options
- Increased Competition and Technological Displacement
- Shift in Lifestyle Work and Unrealistic Expectations
Pressure to Plan Early Affects Mental Health
One challenge teens face today in finding a career is their mental health. To be clear, mental health has been around for ages, so I'm not saying that it didn't exist in the past. However, what I am stating is that career choices in the past didn't have as much pressure as they do now.
Before, you could not know what you wanted to do, and it'd be okay because you had years to work and then figure out your future. Nowadays, teens are feeling pressured to have their entire life planned out by the age of 21. Teens are putting more stress on themselves to have the “perfect” career, which is absolutely achievable; however, it takes time.
Remote Work Limits Networking Opportunities
One unique challenge facing teenagers is the proliferation of remote and hybrid working.
Although remote working tends to advantage experienced employees, it can be quite detrimental to emerging talent populations. Naturally, remote working reduces one's opportunity to network, forge relationships, seek mentors, and acclimatize to office life.
This is particularly true when joining a graduate scheme or apprenticeship program, as these typically involve a considerable amount of training and hands-on support. Without close proximity to colleagues and managers, it will simply leave behind many young people.
Teenagers must, therefore, either pursue opportunities that include office-based work or explore these objectives in other ways, a choice I simply didn’t need to make.
Social Media's Influence on Career Expectations
The challenge for teenagers today is navigating the influence of social media on career choices. Platforms like Instagram and TikTok have not only introduced new career options, such as influencer marketing and content creation, but also present an often idealized view of success.
This can create unrealistic expectations and pressure for teenagers, making it difficult to discern between genuine career opportunities and transient trends.
Unlike previous generations, where decisions were based more on traditional job markets and education paths, today's teenagers must sift through tons of online information to make informed career choices.
Abundance of Choices Leads to Decision Paralysis
In the past, teenagers had a few career options to choose from. However, as technology and society advance, the job market has expanded significantly. We can see this as both a blessing and a curse for today's teenagers.
On the one hand, they have more opportunities to explore their interests and find fulfilling careers. But on the other hand, they may feel overwhelmed and pressured to choose the "perfect" career path, leading to decision paralysis. In contrast, previous generations often had a more straightforward job market with fewer choices, making it easier to make a career decision.
Thus, one key challenge that teenagers today face in their career choices is navigating through the abundance of options available to them.
Youthful Influencers Distort Traditional Success Views
In today's digital age, teenagers are faced with the enticing yet challenging paradigm of youthful influencers amassing wealth through video-content creation, a career path that didn't exist 30 years ago. This adds a layer of complexity to their career choices and subtly shifts the traditional notion that hard work is the only avenue to financial success.
Information Overload Complicates Career Decisions
One significant challenge that teenagers face today in their career choices, which my generation was just at the beginning of, is the overwhelming amount of information and options available to them. The digital age has opened up countless career paths, but it has also made the decision-making process much more complex.
As someone who speaks to hundreds of executives every year, I find it clear that with rapidly changing technological and economic conditions, the jobs and skills that are in demand today might be obsolete in a decade.
This makes adaptability and continuous learning essential. My advice to today's teenagers is to focus on their passions, values, and long-term goals when making career decisions. While the choices may be abundant, remaining adaptable and open to ongoing skill development is crucial in this dynamic environment.
Rapid Technological Advancement Poses New Challenges
Today's teenagers grapple with the challenge of navigating an ever-evolving landscape of emerging careers and technology-driven industries. This was a dilemma largely absent for our generation. The rapid pace of technological advancement and the creation of new job roles pose a unique challenge in career decision-making.
Moreover, financial constraints, especially in accessing higher education, and the increasing gap between education and industry present significant hurdles. The importance of building a professional network, often unaddressed in traditional education systems, adds to the complexity of their career journey.
These factors, combined with the uncertainty of labor market outcomes, make the career decision-making process for today's teenagers far more intricate than it was for our generation.
Globalization Demands Foreign Language Skills
The imperative to possess outstanding foreign language skills is one of the most challenging factors for young job-seekers today.
In previous decades, the economy was based on national companies. An expert in a given area faced no obstacles to excel in their field without foreign language skills. Youngsters could focus on choosing their dream career and dedicating themselves exclusively to becoming competent specialists.
Yet, globalization turned the job market upside down. One cannot expect to pursue an excellent career in many sectors without linguistic abilities. Teenagers must remember that, whichever profession they choose for their future, they must be able to apply their knowledge in the international environment. That adds a lot of effort to this already stressful life stage.
Pressure to Innovate and Create Opportunities
Today's teenagers are growing up in a world that celebrates entrepreneurship. This means there's a lot of focus on creating something on your own—starting your own business or being innovative.
Unlike in the past, when many followed traditional career paths, now there's an expectation for young people to think about unique ways they can make a mark on the world. It's like the idea that you can create your own opportunities instead of waiting for them to come to you. So, teenagers today might feel the pressure to be a bit of a “go-getter” and think outside the box for their careers.
Work-Life Balance Limits Career Options
Work-life balance has only become a more recent desire for up-and-coming people in the workforce. Back in my day, this wasn't yet a concept that people thought of, which is what brought on the onset of many people becoming burnt out, or suffering from other physical or emotional issues. Many younger generations are now understanding the importance of mental health in every facet of their life, which includes the career they choose.
This often means looking more in-depth at the resources and benefits that companies are offering to ensure they align with their values. I find this to be a challenge as many businesses still are not equipped well enough to say they promote a healthy work-life balance. This might mean there are fewer options for younger generations simply because businesses have yet to catch up or upgrade their old policies and procedures.
Increased Competition and Technological Displacement
Global competition and displacement by technology are significant factors. Before, teens competed locally for jobs, but now, they compete nationally or internationally for gigs that don't require physical presence. Many manual-labor jobs are slowly being shifted with technological advancement. Before, teens would be the cashiers, and now, a kiosk has replaced that.
Shift in Lifestyle Work and Unrealistic Expectations
The biggest challenge teenagers are facing today is the change in lifestyle work brought about over the past decade. They realize the traditional career models are outdated. They've seen firsthand how many of the stable career fields have fallen woefully behind in wages and lifestyle flexibility, and they are looking to superstars in social, tech, and other prominent fields to set their trajectories.
Instead of seeing those players as outliers, I'm seeing an increasing number of teens make a push towards that career choice and away from more fitting career choices. The result will be many unemployed, untrained, and unhappy adults 10 years from now.