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How to Discuss Your Career Plan With Your Parents

Talking with your parents about your career plans can be tough. But there are ways to make it easier. Follow these suggestions to show you've thought things through.

So you’ve been thinking about what you want to do with your life. Maybe you’re thinking about post-secondary options or working. At some point, you’ll want to discuss your plans with your parents.

That’s not always easy. Your ideas and theirs may not be the same. And you may need your parents to help with costs, whether you live at home or away. You also know your parents will have questions, and they will expect you to have answers.

Plan ahead

You don’t need to have a final career plan to discuss it with your parents. You just want to talk with them. They may even be able to help you come up with a plan. Your parents will want to know what you’re thinking about doing after high school, so take some time to think about the best way to talk to them about your ideas.

Try these suggestions for a positive conversation:

  • Suggest a convenient time and a comfortable place where you and your parents can talk privately.
  • Plan what you want to say. Think about what your parents may say and ask. Be ready to answer their questions. Don’t be surprised if many of their questions are the same as your own.
  • Think about your parents and their career plans. What did they want to be when they were your age? Are they happy with their choices? Your parents will be thinking about their own experiences when you have your conversation, so be prepared for those memories to shape their responses.
  • Don't expect your parents to support your career plan right away. They may have had other ideas for you. Give them time if they need it.

You also need to think about your options if your parents can’t or don’t support your career choice, even after some time has gone by. When you research your career and educational goals, think about alternatives. Look into different types of student funding.

Work on your career plan

Before you talk with your parents, do some work on your career plan. Ask yourself questions like:

  • Is this really what I want to do?
  • How did I decide on this career?
  • Will I be happy with this career?

Make sure your ideas match your skills, interests and abilities. That way, your parents are more likely to understand you’re serious. If you haven't done so, check out CAREERinsite. You can register to follow an interactive guide through the 4 essential steps of career planning:

  1. Know yourself.
  2. Explore options.
  3. Get ready.
  4. Take action.

Understand your job options

The nature of work is changing. In your career, you’ll probably have many different occupations. That may not have been true for your parents. Think in terms of the skill sets you want to develop. If your skills sets qualify you for a variety of different occupations, you’ll be less affected by a changing economy and it’s less likely your occupation will become obsolete.

Understand your job options. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What job can I get once I graduate?
  • If I can’t get that job, are there others I would qualify for?
  • What do those jobs pay?

Visit OCCinfo to research more than 550 occupations in Alberta. Each occupational profile includes information on the employment outlook, average wages and personal characteristics needed to do the work. Be sure to note the occupation’s educational requirements.

If you’re interested in the trades, visit TradeSecrets to learn about Alberta’s designated trades and occupations. Learn about each trade’s duties, working conditions, training requirements, required skills and abilities, average wages and much more.

You may also want to get some first-hand information about your job options:

  • Talk to people who have done the job.
  • Job-shadow someone who is doing the job.
  • Set up information interviews.

Know your education options

Chances are you’ll need some form of education or training to reach your career goals. Before talking with your parents, know what your education options are.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • What education program do I need to achieve my career goals?
  • What post-secondary schools offer the program I need?
  • Where do I want to go to school?
  • What will my education or training cost?
  • How can I help pay for it?

Here are some resources that can help with answers to your questions:

  • Visit OCCinfo to explore Alberta’s post-secondary programs and schools. You can find information on admission requirements, tuition, the credentials you will earn and much more. Check out each school’s website to find out more.
  • Figure out a budget so you know what your education will cost.
  • Be ready to share a plan with your parents showing what you can do to help pay for your education.
  • Investigate other possible sources of funding at Student Aid Alberta.

When you’re ready to talk

You are giving your parents a lot to think about. They may or may not be as enthusiastic as you are about your career plan. By showing them you understand the choice you’re making, you’ll be able to have a more constructive conversation about it.

When you follow the suggestions in this article, your parents will know you’ve done your homework and are ready to talk.

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