Highlight their strengths and their passions
Whether you are a parent, step-parent, uncle, aunt, grandparent or friend to a young person, you’ll be one of the first people helping to guide them in choosing their career.
What are they passionate about? What are their talents? What subjects do they do well in at school? Here are a few suggestions to help you guide them toward a career choice:
- Passionate about video games: fantastic skills for careers in IT
- Very talented at debating and advocating: essential skills for careers in law, labour relations and negotiation, sales
- A camp counselor or scout leader: potential for a wonderful career in teaching, early childhood education, or elder care
- A talented public speaker: a career in communication or marketing
- Skilled in technical design or art: a promising future as an architect, decorator, painter, mechanical engineering technician, graphic designer, floral designer, publicity agent or comic book artist
- Excellent grades in math: being good with numbers opens the doors to many different careers such as accounting, administration, actuarial sciences, insurance, engineering and IT
- Quick on their skis, bike or skateboard: an affinity for athletics can lead to a career as a kinesiologist, personal trainer, physical education teacher, rec centre coordinator, mountain guide, sales representative for a sporting goods company, or as a police officer or firefighter
- Passionate about hunting and fishing: they may be interested in working at a butcher, fishmonger or in the restaurant industry, or as a geologist or a forest guide
- Always going to events and shows and getting together with friends: event planner, recreational therapist, artist manager or store manager might be great choices
- Always eager to help their friends and take care of everyone: health care would be perfect, especially nursing, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, psychology, massage therapy, medicine or ophthalmology
These are only a few examples to help young people understand that their talents and passions can lead down many different roads. Even activities that are a bit more “controversial” in the eyes of an adult!
Don’t forget that there are certain careers that are much more well known than others... and some lesser known careers that should be suggested more often.
Listen to them
Listening is the best way to encourage a young person to talk. Give them the space they need to express their wants, as well as their fears and their questions. Coach them by asking the right questions, with the goal of guiding their reflection without influencing it.
It’s possible that you have your own ideas about the path that a young person should take. Make sure that you are open to whatever might come out of these discussions. It’s important to put aside any reservations you might have. The choices that you made yourself, whether you think you made the right decisions or if you have regrets, can affect your judgement. Be very careful to not put pressure on the young person.
Some practical things to discuss
Whether their studies will be fully paid, or whether they will need to take out loans to cover some of the costs, it’s important to talk about money. Education costs can vary significantly depending on the number of years of study and the area of study and young people should be aware of the financial impact of their choices if they are going to go into debt to pursue post-secondary education and move away from home, for example.
Talk to them about the reality of the job market, the rate of employment, salary scales, and lifestyle choices for the career they choose (schedule, type of company, location, where the jobs are, etc.).
To expand their horizons, you could encourage them to visit universities or colleges, participate in youth career programs, or in student-for-a-day programs, talk to adults they know about questions they have and search online, where they’ll find tonnes of information about career possibilities.
We say that it “takes a village to raise a child.” You have the privilege of being part of that village and guiding a young person in their plans for their future. By putting your trust in them and listening to them, you’ll be helping to raise a responsible, passionate adult.