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Working Wise - Career Coaching Your Teen

Dear Working Wise,

It's time to start applying to post-secondary schools and my son still isn't sure what he wants to study. How can I encourage him to find a path and follow it?
Signed, Worried

January 6, 2016

Dear Worried,

The huge variety of career options combined with an unfamiliarity with the workplace and the weight of choosing the right career can be overwhelming for some.

Fortunately, there are a number of resources available to help young Albertans decide what careers interest them and how to pursue success in the workplace.

Start your son’s journey off right with these 6 steps.

  1. Self-discovery is the foundation of solid career planning. Getting to know oneself can be tricky, though. The ALIS website offers a free online, self-directed career-planning tool called CAREERinsite that he may find helpful. He may also prefer to use the This Is Your Life workbook, which is available in the Order Publications section of the ALIS web site.
  2. Encourage him to explore careers that fit his list of wants and interests. This may be just the thing to get him excited about his post-secondary education. The OCCinfo section of the ALIS web site houses a wealth of information on career options including detailed profiles of more than 500 occupations, including typical wages, duties, work environments, and educational requirements.
  3. Get him to narrow down his choices. Suggest that he interview people who work in the careers that interest him. Informational interviews will give him a real-world view of the job plus they might open up other exciting opportunities. Job-shadowing, volunteering and part-time jobs are fantastic ways for students to pick up valuable work experience and try out careers before they spend years in post-secondary. He should also factor in what the future demand is likely to be for his target career by checking out Alberta’s Occupational Supply and Demand Outlook in the Labour Market Information section on the Alberta Labour's website.
  4. Help him choose a program and then a school. The Educational Program section on OCCinfo is a searchable database of nearly 2,800 different education programs available in Alberta.
  5. Apply. The ApplyAlberta website has made it easier for students to apply to one or more post-secondary institutions, authorize transcript transfers, and avoid having to fill out the same information over and over.
  6. Budget. Visit the Pay for Your Education section on the ALIS website to find out about the costs of post-secondary education and how to pay for it. He can learn more about scholarships, bursaries and student loans, and apply for loans, on the Student Aid Alberta website.

Finally, if you would like any more tips to help you work with your son, check out the Career Coaching Your Teens: A Guide for Parents publication on ALIS.

Good luck to you both.

Photo Credit: © iStockphoto/sjlocke

Working Wise is a syndicated newspaper column prepared by the Government of Alberta to answer work-related questions from Albertans. Do you have a work-related question? You can send it to Charles Strachey (charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca), a manager with Alberta Community and Social Services.

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