How well does your teen know their strengths and interests? The more they do, the easier it will be for them in the future to choose study and work that they enjoy and do well. Follow these tips to help your teen become interested in their strengths, and strong on their interests.
Keep it natural
‘Talking with your teen about interests, strengths and jobs’ sounds pretty serious! True, but the best way to do it is in everyday conversations – like when you’re driving home together, or doing the washing up. Sometimes you might make a single comment; other times, you’ll end up having a long chat. All these little conversations will help your teen become aware of their interests and strengths, and connect them to potential jobs.
Start with your teen
An easy starting point is to comment on an interest or strength that you’ve noticed in your teen, and talk about jobs that use that interest or strength. Try to come up with less obvious jobs, as in these examples.
- You really enjoy music concerts, don’t you! Did you know there are lots of jobs for people who love music, but don’t play? You could be a tour manager, or a publicist, or a music critic, or a recording engineer.
As your teen gets older, encourage them to think of possible jobs themselves, and to do more research:
- Now that you’ve discovered a love of history, you should check out jobs which would let you follow that passion. History teacher is an obvious one, but I’m sure there are lots of others. Why don’t you do some research online?
- Your drawing skills are so good, you should think about using them in your career. You could be an artist, but your art teacher and careers adviser would know other jobs that use drawing skills. You should ask them!
Draw on your history
Do any of your teen’s interests or strengths remind you of your own childhood or career? Sharing the jobs that you had (or considered) in the past is a great way to expand your teen’s thinking about their own future.
- I’ve always enjoyed tinkering with engines, just like you do. I thought of becoming a mechanic, but then I discovered that I prefer to be operating the machinery, so I became a crane operator.
Tap into role models
There are lots of people who can provide role models for your teen – family, friends, coaches, people in the media, even characters in books, television and movies. If you notice someone with similar strengths or interests, a simple comment can open your teen to a world of new job possibilities:
- Did you know that your aunt was really good at photography when she was at school? She started taking photos for her friend’s cooking website, then she got a job taking photos for a food magazine, and now she works in the publishing industry. I wonder where your photography skills could take you!
Just because we have a passion or strength doesn’t mean we have to build our career around it. If your teen is great at maths but has no interest in a career that uses this skill, that’s okay – encourage them to explore careers in other areas.
Get more data
People who see your teen in other contexts may see strengths and interests that you don’t get to see. So when you’re chatting with your teen’s scout leader, or having a parent-teacher interview, ask what interests and strengths they’ve observed.
Keep your teen exploring
Your teen’s interests and strengths will continue to develop if they have the opportunity, but they won’t be able to discover a love for bushwalking if they never get into the bush! So encourage them to keep exploring different subjects and activities – see the articles below for ideas.