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Challenge: Follow Your Dreams

Helping Your Teens Decide On A Career

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If you have an older teen, I’m sure that you are discussing life, and what they want to do with theirs. When I was in high school it was all about going to college, and that was pretty much the whole discussion. What you did afterwards was important, sure, but it seemed like College was the only path to success. Today things are much different. My son doesn’t want to attend college, he has decided to enter into a trade, and I’m good with that! He just turned 16 and will begin shadowing others in different trades to see which ones he connects with. I support him with his plans, and love that he is looking beyond what it considered a normal path to an expected career, to one that will bring him happiness and fulfillment. I decided to take his lead when he spoke about jobs, and let him explore. It wasn’t always easy, though. Here are some excellent tips from career and life coach Alissa Carpenter that help!


  1. It’s essential to create a trusting an open environment for your child. When they come to you with a frustration about their work day, take the time to listen and not provide suggestions unless they directly ask for them. Provide a space where they don’t feel judged and feel understood.
  2. Be vulnerable. They know you for you now but weren’t there when you struggled with your first job. Let them in on your first conflict with a supervisor, a time you got fired or a job that just wasn’t the right fit. Unveil the curtain a little bit to give them more of your vulnerable and real self.
  3. Millennials and Gen Z want to make a difference, feel valued, and find a place to work where their opinions are listened to and they can pursue their passions. If they are struggling to find this in their current roles, try to connect them with a mentor. Look inside your network to find someone that can help them explore their interests, make connections and identify next steps for their career.
  4. It can be frustrating when you see your child going from job to job with what seems to be no signs of a career commitment. At the same time, they might be frustrated that it’s the first time where they don’t seem to “fit in” and are feeling really lost and don’t know how to ask for help. Without judgment, set aside time for the both of you to have an open conversation about their goals and what they are looking forward to in the future. Be open to the possibility that they aren’t going to let you in completely, but knowing that you are interested in hearing their concerns and interests is the first step to breaking down the communication barriers

When it comes down to it, as I have told my son, I don’t care WHAT he does as long as he is happy and is able to support himself. I want him to know the value of hard work, and to know that not everything he does is going to be fulfilling in the short term, but in the long run, what he does for a living matters. It is, after all, his life. I love that he is looking at jobs on places that he loves, but also in things where he can grow and flourish.

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