We all want our kids to lead fulfilling and happy lives, and their future careers may play an important role in this. It can be a really tough time for many students when they start thinking about what to pursue after they complete their schooling years. Some may have a very clear idea of which direction to go, while others have no clue at all. This can cause them much stress, and it can also be stressful as a parent to know how to best help them.
Last year I had the pleasure of attending my daughter’s primary school graduation ceremony. One of my favourite parts of the ceremony was watching slides come up with all of the children and their career aspirations. There were career dreams of being pilots, athletes, doctors, electricians, teachers, and the list goes on and on. My personal favourite was something along the lines of ‘just being the best person I can be and that will lead me on the right career path’. Wow, that blew me away for a 12 year old!
Making career decisions at a young age can be a daunting task to undertake, particularly for students in their senior years. I really encourage you to get them to start thinking about their interests, strengths, skill set, values and motivations, as these all play an important role in making informed career decisions. If you want to help support your child with their career planning, I have listed a couple of excellent resources below:
Your child can learn more about themselves and potential careers they may be suited to by completing the activities in the ‘My Career Profile’ tool. These excellent self-exploration activities help them identify their interests, values, skills and more, and suggests occupations they may like to explore that are suited to their profile.
This site is also a great source for obtaining labour market information to help with career decision making. For example, your child may want to understand if there is high demand for a certain occupation they have an interest in, and if it looks like there will be growth in the field in the future. They may also want to understand study pathways, potential earnings and what’s involved in that type of work. My Future is an excellent one stop shop for all of this important information, also detailing many different occupation and industry types.
I’m also a big fan of the Career Bullseye Charts available on My Future. These charts allow you to start exploring career pathways by selecting learning areas that you enjoy. The site provides many free tools and resources to help you support your child’s career learning and exploration, and help you talk with them about the world of work.
On this site, you can also access self-exploration activities and a range of excellent resources, including the School Leavers Information Kit. This is a great resource to understand education, training and work options.
Another worthwhile option is having the ability to book in for a free phone session with a career practitioner. This is available to school leavers aged 15 – 24, and could be a great source of help with career planning.
These sites also offer practical advice around applying for jobs, preparing resumes and cover letters, marketing themselves, and preparing for interviews. If your child has a career advisor at their school, they are also a brilliant option to support them with career exploration and career decision making.
A few other things that are important to keep in mind when helping your child with career planning include:
· Our children are unique individuals. As tempting as it can be to want to push them to pursue a particular path that you have dreamt for them, it’s very important to allow them to explore pathways that are aligned to their individual interests, strengths and desires, in the hope they will find fulfilling careers as a result.
· Higher education, and completing university degrees is not for everyone. There are many amazing pathways that can be pursued through vocational education and apprenticeship options. If your child is more aligned with these pathways, please take the time to help them explore their options without discounting these potential excellent occupations.
· The world of work is changing. Many people have a range of different careers in their lifetime, which is absolutely fine. Our interests, values and motivations change during our lives, often aligned with the stage of life and life roles we are in. Having these conversations with our children may help relieve some stress of them feeling like they must choose a career for life at such a young age.
· If an occupation that your child has an interest in has traditionally been perceived as male or female dominated, and you are concerned about their suitability for this reason, I strongly encourage you to not let this influence a decision to not pursue exploration of a pathway for this reason. Again, the world of work is changing, and more options are becoming available for all genders in areas that may not have been seen as viable options in the past.
Being able to have open conversations about the world of work with your children, and having the ability to direct them to some great support options can have a really positive influence on their career planning. I would also encourage them to talk to a range of adults to understand more about their different occupations and industries, to also broaden their knowledge.