Imagining a career path can be quite hard for some students. Since there are so many different types of professions, starting the process of narrowing down the occupational possibilities can be daunting. Parents and local school districts should work together to expose kids to as many jobs as possible. This will give students, especially those in high school, more information about the type of work they might like to do when they get to the workforce. The reality of our 21st century economy is that some of today’s jobs will no longer be around in 5 or 10 years, but entirely new jobs will be created. To help us understand things parents can do to support their kids’ career exploration, we talked with Tammy Dodson, a Colorado high school counselor and a Parent Toolkit Expert. Tammy has 7 ideas to help teach your son or daughter about the variety of careers available after graduation.
Take Your Child to Work Day
Most companies or businesses honor this yearly tradition by allowing employees to bring their children with them to work in order to see how the company runs and operates. Consider this as an opportunity to educate your child about the work that you do on a daily basis, and allow him to see if your occupation might be of interest in the future. If your child has already been to your work year after year, try sending him along with a neighbor or friend for the day. It’s important that you expose your child to both the memorable aspects of your job and the mundane tasks that you have to do. This ensures that your child is aware of all of the responsibilities involved with a certain profession and gives him enough exposure to consider your line of work as a possible career.
One of the best ways to expose your child to the world of work is to encourage her to get a summer job. Whether it’s delivering newspapers, busing tables at a restaurant, or babysitting, this will help expose your child to the demands of a normal job and also allow her to see which occupations align with her overall interests.
Career Summer Camp
Though summer camps can be a little pricey, they offer a great way to expose your child to new and different careers. Whether it’s floating in zero gravity at space camp or creating a new culinary masterpiece at cooking camp, there are many options. Many colleges and universities offer fun and unique classes throughout the summer. You can find one that directly aligns with your child’s interests, but don’t forget to look for some that may push her thinking about possible careers as well. The American Camp Association has a great online tool to help find summer opportunities in your area of the country.
The internet has a lot of great videos and resources about various careers. Tammy Dodson recommends connecting your child with YOUniversityTV.com. They have a career center that includes videos, descriptions, hours, pay and the training needed to be successful in different jobs and careers.
Many middle and high schools offer a variety of elective courses. Whether it’s choir, computer programing, marketing, or floral design, these classes help expose kids to various jobs and can help them narrow down their interests. Encourage your child to think outside the box and take a course that might challenge him in different ways. See the elective courses as an opportunity to study something that your child may never be able to study for free again.
Internships or Shadowing Experiences
Some high schools set up their students with internships or other shadowing experiences. Check with your local counseling department to see if these opportunities are available in your area. This is a great way for kids to be exposed to the realities of work and see if they are interested in a career in the field where they are shadowing or interning.
Encourage your child to take a skills inventory test to identify his areas of strength and growth. Both Myers Briggs personality inventory and the Holland Codes test provide students with career suggestions. After taking the skills inventory, have your child research some of the careers suggested and see if they are a good fit.