Teens have a bad reputation. Many people believe that they generally make bad choices, misbehave and lash out in ways that hurt them (and others) later. Among other things, they think that teens do not know how to make good career choices.
I have had the honor of working with many teens. This has given me a chance to prove to many of them, and to their families, that the bad reputation teens have is wrong. There are always teens who choose well, behave well and do well. And if they can do it, so can other teens!
Many of my clients share teen horror stories, like “You know teens. They never have any money”. I do not know what they are talking about. My own teens have always had money, and it was their own money.
Another common belief is “You know teens. They don’t want to work”. No, I do not know, because my own teens have always wanted to work. My kids also have friends who started working as soon as they could and are doing very well.
So first, it is better to let go of many limiting beliefs about teens and consider them children seeking guidance on how to navigate the world. They want tips, suggestions, ideas and insights. They also want to have the freedom to choose which of the suggestions to use and which of them to ignore.
I have told my own daughter that I expected her to do this. I told her, “I share with you my experience, my thoughts, my ideas and my knowledge. They may be applicable to you or not. You choose! If you do things exactly like me, it will be disappointing for me, because it means you have not evolved. You should not be like me. You should be better”.
Helping your teen make good career choices
In terms of making career choices, the clashes between parents and teens are huge. What teens want is sometimes the opposite of what their parents want for them. As parents, we tend to think we know better, but we do not.
I would like to suggest letting go of the patronizing, arrogant, “I know better than you” mentality. Instead, we should give our teens tips and suggestions and let them choose which ones to follow.
Here is a short list I have prepared for my children with my thoughts and ideas about getting a job and making good career choices. You can give it to your teens “as is” or add your own insight into it.
Remember, it is valuable if you take into consideration they will take what they can now, and maybe they will be able to examine it later, when they have more experience. I am sure that you can remember how your attitude towards things your parents told you has changed with time and experience. It is natural. Think of your tips as seeds. Plant them and let go. One day, they may grow into being great oaks.
Good Career Choices checklist
- What you do as a teen to make a bit of money is not what you will do for the rest of your life. Experiment!
- Any job you find should never interfere with your schooling. While you are studying, school should always come first. There will be plenty of time to work later.
- Save 10% of all your income. It is a good habit for life.
- If you have a credit card, remember that paying interest is “renting money”. Pay off your credit card debt in full at the end of the month and never rent money for expenses. If you want something, wait until you can afford it.
- A new job always starts with discomfort, even for grownups. It is OK to feel a bit overwhelmed at first. Much like perusing a hobby, give yourself time before you make the decision to leave or stay. 3 months is usually good.
- Your attitude at work is much more important than your ability or your talent. When you work, focus on doing your best and being dedicated, kind, cooperative and creative.
- Your grades are not very important once you are in a job. However, they are necessary to get you a good job. Good grades will open doors for you.
- At work, experience is valued more highly than academic achievements. If you have a chance to gain experience in an area you want to work in, do it, even if the pay is lower.
- Having good work ethic is very attractive to employers. You can develop your work ethic in any job, as a cleaner, waiter or office worker.
- Always look clean and dress well when going to work. It is a sign of (self) respect.
- Always come early for work. It is another sign of (self) respect.
- Accumulating money and not enjoying it is no fun. We work to live, not live to work. Enjoy the fruit of your hard work!
- Travelling is an important way to give you perspective. When you travel, you see different ways of doing things and have a chance to review your life from a distance. If you can travel before making your career choices, do it! If not, do it while you study your profession.
- Many career choices are for life. Therefore, do not settle for something someone else wants you to do. You will regret it. Pick something you really want.
- Statistically, we change jobs every 3 years or so. If you stick to the formula that each new job must be a bit better than the previous, you will reach the sky.
- When you go to an interview, make sure the employer understands that just as you are on a 3-month probation, so is the employer. If you do not like employee, you can leave!
- Do your best at every job! Employers can spot dedication and good work straight away.
- If you want to get better at your job, hang around people you can learn from.
- Stay away from gossip at work. If you have nothing good to say, shut up! If others are saying bad things, keep away from them.
- Never burn bridges! People typically find their jobs through networking, connections and referrals. Your colleagues at work will be your network for the next job if you get along with them, so do your best to be on good terms with them.
- Nurture the relationship with your manager. This person will recommend you to your future employers. No need to suck up or be great buddies. Just show respect, do your best and treat your manager as a human being.
I am sure you have plenty more suggestions about how to make good career choices and how to get a good job. Please share them with other parents through the comment box below.
Spend some time sharing these ideas (and your own) with your teens. Remember, after you give, they will take what they can. Do not make a fuss about them not doing exactly what you think they “should” do. Parenting is teaching, not preaching.