Is it ever too early for kids to start exploring creative career options? I don’t think so. It’s one of the life skills for teens I think families should spend time working on.
Now, I’m not suggesting that a child should know exactly what she wants “to be when she grows up” and have a set career path by the time she is 10 years old. I do, however, believe it is beneficial for kids of all ages to think and ask questions about the many different jobs they see people doing as they go about their day-to-day lives.
Then, as they get a little older, kids will hopefully be aware of a wide variety of jobs and can begin to explore careers that might be a good fit with their interests and skills.
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Since my own teens are beginning to think about entering the workforce I decided to ask around to find out how other kids are exploring career options.
Here are a few examples of how creative teens are taking initiative to follow their interests, build work skills, and learn more about potential careers.
“My high school junior is a writer. He is taking writing courses and is the editor of the 4-H Youth Fair newsletter called, The Fair Focus. He’s attended summer writer’s workshops and keeps a few blogs.” – Heather Woodie of Blog, She Wrote
To help her son build his skills at home, Heather uses Writing Conferences to coach her son as he works to meet his writing goals.
Learning at the Library
“Our 8th grader has volunteered at our local library for the last year. It’s given her work experience in a low pressure way. She wants to continue to volunteer until she’s old enough to apply for one of the paid student positions, when she’s around 16.
It doesn’t mean she’ll grow up to be a librarian, but it is giving her the chance to learn real world work skills like answering to a superior and being diligent while doing sometimes tedious work (shelving) in between the chances she has to do more exciting things (like help with programs for younger kids).” – Karen duBarry of Living Unabridged
Books are a big part of life for Karen and her family! What a wonderful opportunity for her daughter to gain skills and experience while spending time in an environment she knows and loves.
“Our high school freshman is a designer and seamstress. She designs and makes all sorts of things custom ordered for people. In addition, she is a costume designer. She does studies with history and fashion. Rebecca also has an offer to work for a local theater company doing costume work.” – Heather Woodie of Blog, She Wrote
Kids interested in fashion should definitely check out this landing page of her sewing & design projects. You won’t believe the beautiful gown and uniforms she created for her family to wear to the spring Civil War Ball!
Earn While You Learn
“Both of my older boys began working ‘real’ jobs during their junior year of high school, which led them to interests they are passionate about. (Neither of them is interested in further education unless it is necessary for their fields of interest.)
The oldest began as a sandblaster in a local factory with the goal of becoming a welder; he was promoted to welder shortly after graduating and continues to learn via OTJ training while making a pretty impressive income for a 19 year old.
The second picked up a summer job on a local hobby farm with an on-site vet clinic. He totally fell in love with farming/animal care, although that will be a secondary career for him. His employer was impressed with his work ethic and ended up letting him learn to operate the backhoe and loader as well.
My daughter is only a sophomore and not quite old enough to work full time in our state. She has instead taken online cake decorating classes and recently made her first sale.
The main value that I see in working a job during high school is the opportunity to develop skills–some that they may not have know that they had–without the burden of student loan and with the added benefit of earning while they learn.” – Judy Hoch of Contented at Home
Looking into the Law
My background is in Human Resources so I have always encouraged my kids to talk to people about their jobs, and learn as much as they can about what people do in their jobs, what they like and don’t like, how they trained for their job, etc. Over the past year we have started to think about our kids’ interests and skills and explore careers that might be a possible fit for them
Our older son has always been interested in the wide variety of jobs available in law enforcement. Last summer he participated in a new 1-week Teen Academy through our local Sheriff’s Department. He enjoyed the program so much he now participates in the Explorers Program that meets several times a month and gives teens the opportunity to learn every aspect of law enforcement from the inside.
Currently, our younger son thinks he might be interested in becoming a lawyer. This school year he asked to take a speech and debate class as a way to develop public speaking skills. We strongly believe these skills will be beneficial regardless of what career he ultimately chooses so this has been a great high school elective. He particularly enjoyed the introduction to debate so he is in the process of finding options to participate on a debate team/club next year.
A helpful resource teens can use for exploring career options is the DK Publishing book, Careers: A Graphic Guide to Finding the Perfect Job for You. It’s written specifically for teens.
Careers is a reference guide to the job world with over 400 career profiles. This book covers all types of professions from actuary to zoologist. Using bold and colorful graphics, Careers is easy to navigate and clearly structured with teen readers in mind.
My kids are having a great time exploring this book! It offers job related information such as entry qualifications, required skills, related careers, career paths, and more. We hope your teen will find this new book helpful as they begin the process of exploring career options too!
We would love to hear from you – how are your kids exploring possible career options?