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Achieving Success for Teens and Parents

  • Tuesday, May 14, 2013

  • Updated Monday, September 23, 2013 11:11 am

By Al Foderaro

During their teen years children are being asked to start making some very important decisions about choosing career clusters and career majors. As a result of having to make these choices, many students can be identified as being “clueless”, “pretenders”, or “pretty sure”.

“Clueless” ones are just that, totally confused without any idea what their interests are or what careers they would want to pursue.
“Pretenders” are students who are clever enough to select a career cluster even though they know they are unsure about their choice. They pretend to select a career so everyone will stop bothering them.

“Pretty sure” students are those who have their interests well defined and they already have a specific occupation in mind.

Every student needs to go through the same process

Regardless of which category best describes a student everyone still needs to go through the same career development process to help select their best academic and career paths. Even the well-defined future engineer needs to decide which of the 75 different types of engineering professions would be the best one to pursue. The ultimate goal for every student should be to select a career that best satisfies his specific interests, needs, and academic abilities.

The career development process

n Step One of the process is simply “Admitting to Being Confused” about making a career choice.

n Step Two is “Gathering Information”, first about you, then about the world of work.  

Start by taking an interest inventory to determine how well defined your likes and dislikes are and which occupational clusters would be the best ones to explore. Interest inventories are self assessment tools that analyze an individual's personal characteristics and are based on the personality theory that people who share similar likes and dislikes usually enjoy similar types of work in similar environments. Ask a school counselor what self assessment resources are available through your school or on the Internet.

After you find the career cluster that seems to be most suitable for you, you will be ready to start researching careers and the world of work. The Internet is a good place to find information about educational requirements, job duties, work environments, salaries, and the current and future demand of the careers.

n Step Three, “Narrowing Down the Career Alternatives” involves selecting a few occupations that you find most interesting after analyzing the occupational information you collected during Step Two. Take time to explore each alternative in greater depth by interviewing people, visiting work environments, or finding a volunteer or part-time job to experience that career.

n Step Four, “Determining the Best Career Alternative” occurs after completing the research and analyzing the information. Make a specific choice based on which career alternative best satisfies your most important needs and wants.
n Step Five, “Implementing the Plan” involves taking all the actions necessary to enter that occupation. Actions might include applying to a college or technical school, earning a degree or certificate, and applying for a job in the field of choice.

Completing these steps properly takes time and should evolve throughout the teenage years. Following these steps in the proper sequence will result in an individual feeling more confident and positive about their academic and career choices.

So are you ready to start using the process? It's your decision.

Al Foderaro is a retired college administrator and instructor living in Georgetown County who is the Founder/Executive Director of Life Decisions Group, LLC and co-author of “It's Your Decision for Teens, A Commonsense Guide to Making Better Choices” and “Keys to Student Success”. For information email afoderaro@lifedecisionsgroup.com or go to www.lifedecisionsgroup.com.

Opinions that appear on this page in Letters to the Editor or in columns do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.


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