Occupational indecision is a normal developmental stage for adolescents.
Occupational indecision is a normal developmental stage for adolescents. fotosipsak

Choosing career takes time and careful consideration

MY DAUGHTER is in Year Ten, and this term has seen a huge focus on senior subjects, career options and decision-making.

A few weeks back I spoke to numerous high school groups attending Experience USC workshops to find out about different university programs. Some teens had a sense of the career they might start, but many seemed overwhelmed. And, this is understandable. Occupational indecision is a normal developmental stage for adolescents. The occupational trajectories of our kids are also non-linear and less predictable than they were for us.

But, a new study published in the Australian Journal of Education reveals teenagers without career plans tend to remain uncertain into their twenties and have lower expected lifetime earnings than their decisive peers. We also know a dream job isn't just about income. There is a growing body of evidence that jobs that help other people bring significant life satisfaction and purpose. Therefore, the key is building a career that is enjoyable, meaningful and helps other people.

Tim Urban, in his "picking-career” post on waitbutwhy.com, says a typical career takes up to about 60 per cent of our adult life, and has a major effect on all our non-career hours as well.

So, "career-path-carving” is a deeply important thing to investigate. We have a role in helping our children view their place in the world positively and supporting their career aspirations.

Family support is very important, both in encouraging the development of skills such as creativity, teamwork and flexibility, and in helping our kids recognise their many options, strengths and capacities to succeed. Knowing what our teens are good at, interested in and find engaging, offers clues for career options.

However, there is no single "right career”. Career-path-carving is a bit like a scientist testing a hypothesis. We have some ideas about what we like and are good at, we have some hypotheses about what we might become good at, and we explore and try these out.

Exploration is important. Our kids need time to find out what they are good at, what they enjoy and what they "could become good at”. It can be hard to know what they are going to be good at ahead of time. So, trying things out is a good idea. Work experience and volunteering is a good idea. Talking to career advisers and people working in areas of interest is a good idea.