Looking for a powerful way to enrich your teen’s career education? Chat with them about your job! This article shows you how you can help your teen develop a more detailed understanding of the world of work, through everyday conversations.
You don’t need to sit down with your teen and have formal ‘career conversations’, just talk about your job sometimes when you’re chatting together. If you’re not in a paid job at that moment, you can talk about previous jobs, or volunteer jobs, or even the job of being a parent! (Remember that your teen can also pick up information when you talk about work with other people, so try to keep work conversations positive when your teen is around.)
Nuts and bolts
If your teen doesn’t know much about your job, make sure you tell them about the nuts and bolts. If it’s appropriate in your job, you could take some photos to show what you are talking about, or even take your teen into work and give them a tour. If you’re not sure what to talk about, try one of these topics:
- who you work for
- what kind of organisation it is – eg a multinational company; your own business; a volunteer organisation
- what your job is called
- where you work – eg in an office; on the road; wherever your clients are
- who you work with – eg with clients; with a small team; mostly by yourself
- what you actually do
- what tools and equipment you use, and how they help you do your job
- what you like about your job (and maybe one or two things you don’t like).
Skills and qualifications
There’s a lot your teen can learn from you about skills and qualifications, starting with the fact that every job requires skills. Some skills are quite specific, like being able to create a 3D model. Others are broad, such as the eight ‘enterprise skills’: communication; creativity; critical thinking; digital literacy; financial literacy; presentation; problem-solving and teamwork.
To help put this into context for your teen, talk to them about:
- the experience and/or formal qualifications you needed to get your job
- skills you’ve learnt or improved on the job
- further study, training or professional development you’ve done
- things you learned at school that have been useful in your job (including skills).
When you can, connect the skills you need to what your teen is learning – it’s a powerful way to show the relevance of school to their future. For example, if your teen has to design a survey and then report about it for an assignment, you might talk about how in your job, you sometimes have to analyse data and write reports too. It’s great that they’re developing those skills already!
A journey of change
To thrive in the future, your teen will need to understand that change is constant, and their career will be a journey. You can expose them to these ideas by talking about changes you’ve seen in your job, such as changes to:
- the things you do
- the equipment and tools you use
- the skills you need.
Your teen will also get valuable insights if you talk about your career journey so far, such as:
- different jobs you have had
- why you changed jobs
- how earlier jobs helped you to get later jobs
- times you didn’t have a paid job
- changes to the nature of the work
- how your job might change in the future.
Teens are often curious about the big picture, so be prepared for some ‘why’ questions! If they ask about something that’s a bit sensitive, just keep your answer appropriate to their age, and only share what you’re comfortable with. Here are some questions that might come up:
- why do you work?
- what do you get out of working?
- how much money do you make (you don’t have to give a direct answer!)
- why do you have your current job?
- have you changed jobs in the past? Why/why not?
- how does your job ‘make the world a better place’?