5 Ways to Help Your Teen Find Their Career Path - A Bountiful Love

5 Ways to Help Your Teen Find Their Career Path

     I felt a “calling” to be a teacher early on as a child. I just KNEW I was meant to be a teacher and teaching was God’s plan for my life. However, after a decade of teaching 12th grade, I realize that there are a lot of students that are truly clueless as to what career path is right for them. Often times, this overwhelms students as they start looking at colleges and people begin to ask them what field they plan to go into.

   Parents and teachers can and should help guide these students through this process. From my experience working with 12th graders, here are a few things that both parents and teachers might want to try to help students figure out what direction their future holds.

 1. Prayer Parents should pray for their teenagers but also pray with their teenagers for God’s direction in their life.

   Teenagers need to be reminded that God has a plan for their life and they should be seeking His Will instead of their own. Remind them of verses like Jeremiah 29:11-13 and Matthew 7:7-8.  I think it is very important for teenagers to know and see that their own parents are trusting God for the future & this will encourage them in their walk with the Lord. Teenagers respond much better to being shown than to just being told. If your teenager is struggling for direction, schedule a time that you can pray with them regularly for guidance in this area. Even if they aren’t struggling, what a great way to bond with your teenager than to pray together regularly!

    Parents, do know that there are a lot of us, Christian teachers, out there that are praying with you for the success of your child and are eager to help them find their path. Christian teachers, make sure you are doing your part in praying for your students and being the Christian role model that you can be on a daily basis. As a professor in college once told our class, “You don’t have to walk everyone down the Roman Road for them to know you are a Christian.” Your actions and treatment of students, colleagues, and employers speaks much louder than your words.

 2. It isn’t the 1950s anymore.

   Remind teenagers that we don’t live in a society anymore that expects you to pick a career and stick with it for the next 40 years. The thought of “what am I going to do with the rest of my life,” is incredibly overwhelming, especially for a 17-18 year old. Today, people change jobs and career fields regularly. Many people are going back to school to learn new fields in their 40s, 50s, & even 60s. There is nothing wrong with this so students should focus on their interests right now, not what they think they will want to do at the age of 50. Remind them they have plenty of time to do all sorts of things in their life and this one choice isn’t going to limit them from doing all the other things they want to do in life.

    Although students should focus on their interests right now, do help your child to be realistic. Yes, the idea of being a professional athlete is great but is this really realistic? Even if it is, everyone should have something to fall back on when obstacles in life present themselves. Even though teaching is a very realistic profession, I originally wanted to teach music but my parents made me realize that schools usually only need one music teacher so I might want to find something else that I could do in addition to music so I would be more marketable. They didn’t say that I shouldn’t teach music but they just encouraged me to make myself as marketable as I could so that job opportunities would be there when I was ready for them.

3. Find opportunities to explore your interests.

   Students should try to find ways to explore their interests. Part-time jobs and volunteer opportunities are great ways for teens to explore potential career fields. Instead of working a typical teen job, like fast food, encourage teens to find jobs based on their interests? Do they like animals? Children? Healthcare? Mission work? Have them find jobs or volunteer opportunities at a veterinary clinic, humane society, daycare, after-school program, hospital, church, non-profit organization, etc. Even if places aren’t advertising for help, I can’t imagine someone turning down a young adult that comes in asking to help out for free in exchange for learning more about the career field.

 4. Encourage the use of contacts.

   Do you, as a parent, have a friend or family member that you know does a job in a field your child is interested in? Why not see if this person would mind taking the time to talk with your child? Even if you don’t have someone you know in this field, could you ask around and see if someone you know does? You never know who your friends or family members might know that could be a real asset to your child. It is a wonderful learning opportunity to talk with a person that is doing a job your child ‘thinks’ they want to do in the future. I think most professionals would be quite flattered and willing to speak to a young person wanting advice and insight into their profession.

 5. Help your child discover their strengths and weaknesses.

   Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses and typically parents know their children well enough to know what these are. For example, my younger sister struggled to find out what career field she wanted to go into. She took different routes in college trying to find her niche. I know it was hard for her since I had always just KNOWN what I wanted to do. However, my sister ultimately ended up doing the exact job that my mother had said she was going to do since she was a little girl. My mother knew that my sister loved money and not in the kind of way that you probably are thinking. While I was teaching my stuffed animals in my make-shift school, my sister was playing with her cash register & checkbook. She absolutely loved filling out checkbooks and learning how to handle money. She was pretty good at math in school and was good at budgeting her allowance money and later on her paycheck in high school. Skip to present day, my sister is an accountant. My mom saw her interest and ability in dealing with finances long before she even did. Additionally, my mother could have told you twenty plus years ago that I would NEVER be an accountant because that just wasn’t me. I struggled in math, didn’t like numbers, and to this day I hate dealing with finances.

   As a parent, you should know your child better than anyone. You have watched them grow, seen their successes and failures, and have been through all of their interest phases. Use this knowledge of your child to help them find the things that interest them and they excel at. However, make sure you are also being realistic about their weaknesses. I have had students that seriously struggled in math class and their parents just swore they would be an engineer one day. Not to criticize the parents, but I saw how this struggle was painful for the student. The parent had decided that despite the difficulties the student had, they were going to get past it and go into this field no matter what. I definitely think students should be taught to work hard, whether they are good at something or not, but I do think a parent should be realistic and not place an undue burden on their child. Give your child room to succeed and be applauded for their successes, not defeated for their short-comings.

   Deciding on a career path can be a challenging and overwhelming process for some young adults. Parents and other adults in a teenager’s life can help facilitate this process by using some of the strategies I mentioned above. Realize teenagers are overwhelmed, scared, and excited all at the same time. They are going through so many emotions and need guidance to weed through it all. These 17-18 year olds may look like adults but when it comes to making these big decisions, they still need guidance from those adults in their life they trust. Be ready and available to be this adult and help them make the choices they need to make!

 For additional resources on this topic, I encourage you to check out some of these books for your teenagers. (Affiliate links included)


Also, for Christian parents, my pastor mentioned this book recently and highly recommended it. I also have included a copy of his sermon notes on the topic, which I think would be highly beneficial for you to read over. He addresses not only the reasons why children leave the faith but also some  strategies for keeping them from leaving it! 
 Sermon Notes on How to Keep Kids in the Faith

Title Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net. Font on images courtesy of Kevin and Amanda Fonts. 
About the author:
 April Cullom is a high school social studies teacher in Birmingham, Alabama. She is going on her 11th year as a classroom teacher. She has been happily married to the love of her life, James, for 6 years. She suffers from multiple chronic illness and was told six months ago that she would have to give up her teaching career due to her health. However, through the Grace of God, a second opinion resulted in finding the “miracle” pill that has enabled her to continue in the classroom. She is praising God daily for this “miracle.” While dealing with her illness, she started using a website, Teachers Pay Teachers. Now that she is feeling better, she wants to help other teachers, like herself, that could use time-saving lessons and activities. 

Connect with April!

She also has a Facebook group specifically for Christian public school teachers called Teacher Time.   
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  1. We're going through this at the moment with Jeff's nieces. It's not easy when you're trying to figure out what you're passionate about in life. Teens need lots of encouragement, and our support. Great tips overall.

  2. This is a wonderful post. I worked in the college classroom for many years and was always so worried about my students that didn't seem to have any direction. I found you on the Monday of Many Blessing Link Up.

  3. Thank you very much for you comments, Fatima & Kim. This is definitely an issue "near & dear" to my heart. Fatima, you are so right about teens needing our encouragement & support. It is hard out there in the "real world" and we have to help them find their direction & give the opportunities to do that. I can imagine that you deal with this a lot, Kim. It is hard not to worry about these kids but hopefully with support, they will find their way! Thanks again for your thoughts!

  4. Great tips, Right now my kids are little but I know they will be facing these decisions before I know it

  5. Your suggestions are wonderful! Thanks for sharing them with us at the #LMMLinkup. I would also add that parents need to help children think through the issue of supporting themselves and their families carefully. While a child may enjoy a particular field, he/she may find it makes a better hobby than career if the salary will not be enough to provide his/her needs.

  6. While searching for careers with computer science degree, visit this source for some useful info.


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