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Encourage Your Teens to Explore Career Options

Once your teens have identified their interests, values, and strengths, the next step is to generate a list of career options. You can help them navigate the ocean of information that’s out there.

This involves helping them develop the skills they need to research various occupations, industry sectors, and ways of working. Given the current pace of change, it is especially important to identify resources that are current, reliable, and relevant.

You can also connect your teens with people who can help them find opportunities to try out different activities and get hands-on experience.

The goal is for your teens to find out more about their options so they can figure out which ones may be the best fit.

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How to Choose a Career That Fits You

What do you want to be when you grow up? Now that you’re an adult or almost one, how do you actually get the answer to that question? This guide will show you how.

Encourage teens to explore widely

Career experts agree that youth is a time for exploring. Even older teens may not be ready to choose an occupation or post-secondary program.

In any career path, serendipity—unplanned connections and events—can be valuable. The more your teens explore, the more likely they are to have experiences that provide insight or meet people who inspire them.

Here are some ways that you can encourage discovery:

  • Help your teen develop communication, problem-solving, and teamwork skills.
  • Encourage school activities, volunteering, and part-time jobs.
  • Support your teen’s commitment to sports, arts, and leadership activities.
  • Help your teen find chances to talk to family members, friends, and others about the work they do.

Encourage teens to research industries and sectors

Suggest that your teens start their research by focusing on an industry or sector, rather than on specific occupations, to come up with a list of options that reflect their interests.

An industry is a group of organizations that perform similar activities and require similar skills, values, and interests. A sector is a group of related industries.

Expanding their thinking from occupation to industry or sector will help your teens stay open to possibilities. For example, if your teens have a passion for film or music, you could suggest they research the entertainment industry to discover the range of occupations available there. Or, if they are into computer programming, suggest they check out the information technology sector. Encourage your teens to keep track of the occupations that attract them in each sector.

Learning about sectors will help your teens prepare for any employment transitions they may encounter in their careers. Employment transitions happen when people change their work or when their working conditions change around them. Developing a sector-wide view will help your teens stay flexible and adaptable to change.

Explore different occupations

Print and electronic resources offer information to help teens check out occupations to see if they might be a good fit. Research will feed your teens’ curiosity about a particular occupation or eliminate it from the list of possibilities.

OCCinfo includes detailed information for more than 550 occupations available in Alberta. You can refine searches by field of study, industry, employment outlook, and other filters.

Each occupational profile describes:

  • What the occupation is like
  • How people get started
  • What people earn
  • What opportunities are available

Encourage your teens to research a sector or occupation that interests them.

Talk about emerging sectors, occupations, and work options

Encourage your teens to be open to new ideas and to think about non-traditional occupations, emerging fields, self-employment, or apprenticeship. Knowing their skills and interests will help your teens take advantage of emerging opportunities.

For example, your teens may like video games and love to draw. They may be keen to work as video game artists or animators but may believe there are few opportunities and no post-secondary programs in the field in Alberta.

Research will show that it is possible to work as a video game animator in Alberta. For more information about this option and what schools offer courses, your teens can check out the animator occupational profile.

Many new ways of working are also emerging. Young people entering the workforce are likely to spend at least some of their career doing temporary, part-time, or gig work, which can be a good way to gain experience and try out different career paths. Encourage your teens to research and consider the pros and cons of different work options.

Connect teens with people in your network

A great way for teens to find out if an occupation is a good fit is to interview people who are working in the field. These people can describe what their daily work involves and what the highs and lows might be. They can tell your teens about changes and trends in the occupation and answer questions about their own career paths. They may even invite your teens to job shadow.

As your teens’ coach, you can help them learn more about the sectors and occupations that attract them by finding people in your network who work in or have contacts in those areas. You can also help your teens practise their interview skills.

Help teens get hands-on experience

You may be able to help your teens gain hands-on experience in the occupations and sectors that look like a good fit. Encourage your teens to:

  • Accept a job-shadowing offer from the people they interview or request one if they feel comfortable doing so.
  • Attend orientation events offered by post-secondary programs and institutions that look promising.
  • Volunteer in a sector that interests them.
  • Enrol in a non-credit course related to a sector or occupation of interest. Many post-secondary institutions offer free courses online. Your teen can visit Post-Secondary Programs in Alberta to find hundreds of courses from post-secondary schools in Alberta
  • Take a gateway (entry-level) job in the sector, part time or during the summer. Entry-level jobs help teens get first-hand experience, make additional contacts, and learn more about skills and attributes they will need to succeed in the field.

The more opportunities your teens have to explore the possibilities that are open to them, the better equipped they will be for the next step—making a choice.

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