Education Today...Helping Students Choose A Career and Find A Job

Education Today...
Helping Students Choose A Career and Find A Job

Parents of students in school should be involved in helping them think about work and exploration of careers. Academic achievement is very important, but it should not be only thing that is considered as the most important part of the student's life. It is a means to an end. The end is a satisfying adulthood where the student can make a contribution to the world.
During adolescence, students should be developing strengths and exploring options. Finding what they want to do as well as what they do not want to do is an important element during this period of growth. Students might be athletic, academic, attractive, good with their hands, or socially adept. Whatever the strengths, effort and encouragement from significant others can help them to grow.
Students' career choice will be based on their strengths, and they should be encouraged to think about future jobs. Can they fix items so they can work? Can they wash small, delicate items without breaking them? Coordination and mechanical ability are useful in many careers from car mechanic to dentist. Have they always been an expert at knowing which parent to approach first to get what he wants? Can they charm grades out of their teachers? These skills are also important for many jobs from salesperson to diplomat.
It's not easy to determine which career uses students' strengths. Many books about job hunting have practical exercises to help individuals make that match. Private job placement firms can administer tests and advise adolescents. School counselors can also help by assisting students to explore their career strengths and weaknesses. Vocational skills tests can serve as a valuable guide, but they are not accurate for everyone. Some school systems offer career education, systematically exposing the students to the world of work. If your child's school doesn't have such a program, perhaps you could recommend establishing one. After teenagers think of potentially interesting jobs, they should learn more about it and try to talk to people doing that job. If possible, they should visit the actual office, factory, or worksite. Volunteering, internships, apprenticeships, and part time jobs enables students to experience the work and find out if they can do it well and enjoy it.
Students should know about their strengths and weaknesses. It will help them avoid finding themselves in a job that is closely related to their weak areas. Without clear information on these skills, students may think of themselves as stupid, lazy, crazy, or personally weak. These explanations lead to a low self-image and paralyze their desire to improve. Tell your children what you know. If you feel uncomfortable about this, ask a school counselor to talk to them. The counselor will let them know the exact nature of the career and the skills necessary for it. Also, the student can be introduced to the training and education that might be required beyond high school for the career selected.
Students deserve to be proud of what they have done in school and should be positively anticipating what the future holds. A strong and realistic self-image and acceptance of themselves are two of the most important qualities in success. These are vital during the time students are exploring careers and/or looking for their first job.

Budd A. Moore, Ed.D., is a school counselor in Washington County. Email him at buddm4cnsl@comcast.net