I’ve launched four kids to college so far. Three of my kids knew with razor precision what career they wanted. That made choosing classes and a major straightforward.
But not all kids are so certain as they begin their freshman classes. My fourth child stressed out whenever I broached the subject. As we helped him settle on a major he’s now very excited about, I found there were several ways to help our teen find his true calling. Here are 6 ways to help your teens find their true calling.
1. Help them see their gifting.
It’s often much easier to see natural bents and gifting in others than in ourselves. As a student of your child for 17+ years, you probably see where your child really shines. Share this with your child and give some concrete examples. Ask your child whether she feels passion when she operates in her strengths and gifting. Begin to brainstorm jobs that depend on that skill and gifting.
Ask your child whether she feels passion when she operates in her strengths and gifting.
2. Take a career aptitude test.
A quick search will pull up multiple free career aptitude tests. Have your child take more than one so that you can compare results. While not scientific, these tests can be a good indicator of strengths, interests, personality, and disposition. This test has a free version with detailed reports.
This resource from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has up-to-date information on the fastest growing jobs, median pay, number of new jobs, and specific careers within sectors. Your child can browse jobs available within various fields. This is a must-look resource to determine the job outlook for careers after graduation.
4. Pursue volunteer and extracurriculars.
Volunteer work can be an excellent, risk-free way to gather information about a particular job or field. One of my sons volunteered at a hospital for a year and while he didn’t do medical work, he had direct patient contact and was able to watch others in all kinds of medical work. It solidified his interest in medicine.
Another son worked on an after-school engineering team, and while he enjoyed the project, he realized that he didn’t want to pursue engineering full-time. Have your child seek out volunteer and extracurricular opportunities that will provide exposure or experience in a possible career choice.
5. Try a career exploration camp.
More and more, colleges are offering these summer camps in fields such as journalism, healthcare, law, computers and more. They are usually offered to high school students and they’re an excellent way for your child to get a hands-on feel for a possible career. Check with colleges in your area, including junior colleges, to see whether they offer career exploration summer camps. Downside: These kinds of summer camps can be pricey. But the next option is absolutely free and can be arranged to fit your child’s schedule.
6. Shadow for a day.
This is a time-tested way to get a glimpse at what certain professions are really like. If your child is interested in learning more about a certain job, find a family member or friend who would let your child job shadow for the day. Not only will your child see what the job is like, they have someone in the profession who can answer questions and concerns about the job.
So where are they now? One knew right off he wanted to do medicine and he’s in his second year of medical school. The next also knew she wanted healthcare and just started her first job as an ICU nurse in the burn unit. (Just writing that makes my mama heart beat happy). My third narrowed his focus from economics to finance and then found his passion in investment banking. He’s off to the fast pace of New York City.
And, after lots of prayer, trial and elimination, and some great discussions with older siblings, my fourth son has decided on physical therapy. He’s volunteering and has an upper classman mentor, both of which helped him confirm his focus.
Have you started the career conversation in your house? Have you told your child his/her strengths and gifting?