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How NOT To Help Your Teenager Pick A Career


Are you a parent navigating the challenging terrain of guiding your teenager's career planning? We understand the weight of this responsibility and the concerns that keep you up at night. Trust me, you're not alone. There are several reasons why guiding your teenager's career planning can be a daunting task. 

The Challenges of Parental Guidance:

  • Lack of Objectivity: As parents, our own experiences and aspirations can unknowingly influence the advice we give our teenagers. We want the best for them, but sometimes our biases can cloud our judgment. Are we truly considering their unique interests and strengths?
  • Limited Awareness of Career Options: The world is evolving at an unprecedented pace, with new industries and professions emerging constantly. It's challenging to keep up with these rapid changes and stay informed about the myriad of career paths available today. Are we aware of all the possibilities awaiting our teenagers?
  • Generation Gap and Changing Work Dynamics: Let's face it – the work landscape has transformed drastically since we were teenagers. Remote work, gig economy, and ever-evolving work cultures can leave us feeling like we're speaking a different language. How can we guide our teenagers effectively when we're not entirely familiar with these changes ourselves?

Mistakes to Avoid in Guiding Your Teenager’s Career Exploration 

Imposing their own career aspirations onto their teenager:

  • By imposing our own career aspirations onto our teenagers, we risk stifling their individuality and hindering their ability to explore their own passions and interests. It's crucial to support their unique goals and dreams to foster their personal growth and fulfillment.

Focusing too much on prestige or societal expectations:

  • Placing excessive emphasis on prestige or societal expectations can lead teenagers to pursue careers solely for external validation, rather than following their own values, strengths and passion. It's important to prioritize personal fulfillment and happiness, as this will ultimately lead to long-term satisfaction and success.

Dismissing their teenager's interests and passions:

  • Dismissing our teenager's interests and passions can discourage them from pursuing their true potential. By actively engaging and supporting their passions, we empower them to develop valuable skills and find fulfillment in their chosen career paths.

Making decisions without involving their teenager in the process:

  • Making decisions for our teenagers without involving them can create a sense of disempowerment and undermine their ability to take ownership of their career choices. By actively involving them in the decision-making process, we foster their independence and help them develop crucial decision-making skills.

Ignoring the importance of self-discovery and exploration:

  • Self-discovery and exploration are essential for teenagers to understand their strengths, interests, and values. By disregarding this process, we limit their ability to make informed career decisions based on a deep understanding of themselves.

Putting too much pressure on academic achievements:

  • Placing excessive pressure on academic achievements can lead to high levels of stress and anxiety. It's important to recognize that success in a career goes beyond academic performance and that skills, experience, and personal qualities also play crucial roles in achieving career goals.

Not considering alternative career paths beyond traditional professions:

  • Failing to consider alternative career paths limits our teenager's options and overlooks emerging industries and opportunities. Encouraging them to explore unconventional paths opens doors to creativity, innovation, and personal growth.

Discouraging their teenager from pursuing creative or unconventional careers:

  • Creativity and unconventional career paths often lead to innovation, personal fulfillment, and breakthrough success. Discouraging our teenagers from pursuing these paths can stifle their potential and limit their ability to make a unique impact in the world. At Careers That Matter we help teenagers to have a plan A career plan, but also a plan B alternaitve, and a Plan Z back up option is everything falls apart. 

Not allowing their teenager to take risks and make mistakes:

  • Taking risks and making mistakes are valuable learning opportunities that foster resilience, adaptability, and problem-solving skills. By not allowing our teenagers to take risks, we hinder their growth and prevent them from developing the confidence to navigate challenges in their careers.

Comparing their teenager to others and setting unrealistic expectations:

  • Comparing our teenagers to others and setting unrealistic expectations puts undue pressure on them and can lead to feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. Each teenager is unique, with their own strengths and abilities, and it's important to recognize and celebrate their individuality rather than comparing them to others.

Pressuring their teenager to pursue a career solely for job security:

  • Pressuring our teenagers to prioritize job security above all else can lead them to choose careers that they are not passionate about. While stability is important, it's equally crucial to consider their interests and personal fulfillment. A balance between security and passion is essential for long-term career satisfaction.

Minimizing the importance of personal fulfillment and happiness in a career:

  • Personal fulfillment and happiness are integral to a fulfilling career. When we downplay their significance, we risk guiding our teenagers toward paths that may not align with their values and passions, resulting in dissatisfaction and regret in the long run.

Failing to provide exposure to different industries and job opportunities:

  • By not exposing our teenagers to diverse industries and job opportunities, we limit their understanding of the wide range of possibilities available. Exposure to different options allows them to explore their interests and make informed decisions about their career paths.

Dismissing the value of vocational or technical training:

  • Vocational or technical training can provide valuable skills and pathways to fulfilling careers. Dismissing their value limits our teenagers' options and fails to recognize the practical and hands-on skills they can acquire through these training programs.

Not encouraging their teenager to explore internships or part-time jobs:

  • Internships and part-time jobs offer invaluable real-world experiences, exposure to different work environments, and opportunities to develop skills and professional networks. By not encouraging these experiences, we deprive our teenagers of valuable learning opportunities that can shape their career choices.

Forcing their teenager into a specific career path without considering their aptitude:

  • Forcing our teenagers into specific career paths without considering their aptitude can lead to a mismatch between their skills and interests. It's important to consider their natural abilities and strengths when guiding them towards suitable career options.

Overemphasizing the importance of prestigious universities:

  • While prestigious universities can offer unique opportunities, overemphasizing their importance can create undue stress and narrow our teenagers' options. It's crucial to recognize that success can be achieved through a variety of educational paths and that personal dedication, skills, and experience play significant roles in career advancement.

Dismissing the importance of soft skills and emotional intelligence:

  • Soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, and adaptability, are highly valued by employers. Dismissing their importance can hinder our teenagers' ability to succeed in the workplace and develop strong professional relationships.

Belittling their teenager's career choices based on income potential:

  • Belittling career choices solely based on income potential overlooks the importance of personal fulfillment and passion. It's important to support our teenagers' aspirations and help them find a balance between financial stability and pursuing a career that aligns with their passions.

Not discussing the potential challenges and obstacles in different careers:

  • By not discussing the challenges and obstacles in different careers, we fail to prepare our teenagers for the realities they may face. Openly addressing these challenges allows them to develop resilience and make informed decisions about their career paths.

Micromanaging their teenager's career decisions:

  • Micromanaging our teenagers' career decisions undermines their autonomy and self-confidence. It's essential to provide guidance and support while allowing them the freedom to explore and make their own choices, fostering their independence and growth.

Failing to provide guidance on networking and building professional relationships:

  • Networking and building professional relationships are crucial for career success. By not providing guidance in this area, we deprive our teenagers of opportunities to connect with industry professionals and mentors who can provide valuable insights and support their career growth.

Dismissing the importance of volunteer work and extracurricular activities:

  • Engaging in volunteer work and extracurricular activities develops valuable skills, networks, and a sense of social responsibility. Dismissing their importance overlooks the well-rounded experiences and personal growth opportunities they provide, which can enhance our teenagers' career prospects.

Pushing their teenager to pursue a career solely for the purpose of family legacy:

  • Pushing our teenagers to pursue careers solely for the purpose of family legacy can lead to dissatisfaction and a lack of personal fulfillment. It's important to support their individual aspirations and encourage them to create their own path rather than living up to familial expectations.

Ignoring the potential impact of technology and automation on certain careers:

  • Ignoring the impact of technology and automation on careers can lead to pursuing paths that may become obsolete or heavily impacted by automation. It's crucial to help our teenagers understand the evolving landscape and guide them towards careers that align with future trends and technologies.

Overprotecting their teenager from failure and setbacks:

  • Overprotecting our teenagers from failure and setbacks deprives them of valuable learning experiences. By allowing them to face and overcome challenges, we nurture their resilience and equip them with essential skills for navigating the ups and downs of their future careers.

Minimizing the importance of networking and building professional connections:

  • Networking and building professional connections open doors to opportunities, mentorship, and professional growth. Minimizing their importance limits our teenagers' access to valuable resources and networks that can significantly impact their career trajectories.

Neglecting to discuss the potential impact of globalization on certain careers:

  • Globalization has transformed the job market, creating new opportunities and challenges. Neglecting to discuss its potential impact on certain careers can leave our teenagers ill-prepared for the realities of a globalized workforce. It's important to help them understand the dynamics and encourage adaptability in their career choices.

Pressuring their teenager to choose a career too early without proper exploration:

  • Pressuring our teenagers to choose a career prematurely can limit their exposure to different options and hinder their ability to make well-informed decisions. Allowing them the time and space to explore various paths empowers them to choose careers aligned with their interests and passions.

Dismissing the potential benefits of gap years or travel experiences:

  • Gap years or travel experiences can provide valuable opportunities for self-discovery, personal growth, and exposure to diverse cultures. Dismissing these experiences overlooks the valuable skills and perspectives they can gain, which can positively influence their future career choices.

Not acknowledging the importance of personal values and ethics in a career:

  • Personal values and ethics play a vital role in career satisfaction and alignment. Neglecting their significance can lead our teenagers to pursue careers that contradict their core values, resulting in a lack of fulfillment and ethical conflicts in the workplace.

Belittling their teenager's career choices based on societal stereotypes:

  • Belittling our teenagers' career choices based on societal stereotypes undermines their autonomy and potential for success. Each individual has unique strengths and interests, and it's important to support and respect their chosen paths, regardless of societal expectations or stereotypes.

Benefits of Professional Career Guidance:

  • Expert Knowledge and Industry Insights: Professional career guidance providers are dedicated to staying updated on the latest job trends, emerging industries, and evolving skills required in the workforce. They possess the knowledge to offer valuable insights and help your teenager explore a wide range of career options.
  • Objective Assessment and Guidance: A career professional can provide an unbiased assessment of your teenager's abilities, interests, and values. By leveraging their expertise, they can guide your teenager toward suitable career paths that align with their unique strengths and aspirations.
  • Exposure to a Wide Range of Opportunities: Professional career guidance opens doors to diverse career paths, including unconventional options that may not have crossed your teenager's mind. By exploring these less-traveled paths, your teenager can discover passions they didn't even know they had.

You Don’t Have to Do This Alone 

As a parent of a teenager: 

  1. Are you worried about your teenager wasting years at university studying something that they are not fully engaged by and will later realise was the wrong choice? 
  2. Or worried about them not being able to establish a solid career they can fully commit to? 
  3. Or even them failing to launch into adulthood? 

Our Program is for:

  1. Teenagers who dabble in many things but may not stick with anything.
  2. Teenagers who  have a vague idea of what carer they want but no practical plan to achieve it. 
  3. Teenagers who are stressed by having to choose their high school elective subjects or university courses because they dont have clarity on what career they are setting themselves up for with those choices. . 

Teens who complete our program:

  1. Start focusing with renewed energy on what they need to do to make their career vision happen; including prioritising their studies.
  2. Can make clear choices regarding school subjects, post-high school education, first jobs, gap years and other activities
  3. And by finding a career where their natural talents are highly valued, they flourish and grow into fulfilled adults with meaningful and successful careers. 

What we do: 

  1. We help your teen clarify their unique strengths, values and personality, and help them match them with jobs of the future.
  2. We help them create a vision of their future career and map out clear steps they need to take to make it happen.
  3. We don’t leave them there; for the next ten years, we support them to adapt their plan as they and the world around them evolve.

More Resources

Keep Reading 

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Dec 02, 2023

12 Unique Career Choice Challenges Faced by Today's Teenagers

Nov 30, 2023

15 Significant Ways Parental Expectations Impact Career Choices

Nov 18, 2023

Careers That Matter provides online programs to teenagers across the globe. The organisation is based in Melbourne Australia. We have students from across Australia including Sydney, NSW 2000, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Brisbane, QLD 4000, Perth, WA 6000, Adelaide, SA 5000, Hobart, TAS 7000, Canberra, ACT 2600, Darwin, NT 0800. We also take students from The United Kingdom including London, Europe, and the United States including New York , Canada, New Zealand including Auckkland and Wellington, and Asia including Singapore and Malaysia.