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How Can Teenagers Figure out What They Want to Do?

By Shara JJ Cooper ; Updated September 26, 2017
Figuring out what to do after high school can be overwhelming.

Teenagers are often overwhelmed when they finish their high school years and need to find their place in the world. They are expected to find a career and leave the comfort of their parents' home. Making what can be a lifelong decision is intimidating. Parents can help their teen with this decision by letting him explore career options and his own personal skill sets.

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Work Experience

Helping your child get work experience by holding down a part-time job or volunteering can help him learn what his skills are. After working with people, animals, handling money and building communication skills, he'll have a good idea of what feels natural. This also helps him network and learn about different job markets. Previous employers can help him get a job in a similar field or teach him about how difficult a specific field is. Jobs that are in a field of interest are ideal for helping him decide, but any kind of work is educational.

Explore Different Fields

Your teen may be destined for a graduate program at a university, or he may have the skills needed in the trade industry. Help him examine different career options by browsing university and college program books. Discuss the different programs available and note which ones look interesting. Talk to professors and individuals in the field to see what is required to work in that area. For example, a Power Engineering certificate can take only a year or two, depending on the program, while other engineering programs are five years or more.

School Counselors

Career counselors at your teen's school are trained to know about different career options. Have your teen meet with the counselor to discuss his options. You can join them as well. The counselor will be able to evaluate your teen's grades, school experience, financial situation and interests. Counselors are familiar with local programs that are available as well as finding scholarships for any number of programs. Your teen can meet with the counselor at several points throughout his teen years to keep his options fresh.

Taking Time Off

While many parents want their teens to go to college, get a good job and settle down, this isn't the best fit for every teen. Some teens need to explore outside of a school setting, according to KidsHealth.org. This may include traveling or working for a year or two before making a career choice. For parents that are footing the bill, time off may be preferable than paying for an incomplete college education. If your teen brings up this option, listen to his concerns and discuss it as a viable option. He will be a grown-up when he makes this decision and will make his own choice in the end.

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About the Author

Shara JJ Cooper graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism in 2000, and has worked professionally ever since. She has a passion for community journalism, but likes to mix it up by writing for a variety of publications. Cooper is the owner/editor of the Boundary Sentinel, a web-based newspaper.

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