Exploring your child’s career options

It can’t hurt to get your child to start thinking about possible career paths from an early age, so here Sally Coulthard, working mum and author explains ten ways to help your child make some decisions about their future.

1. Take her seriously. Even if you think your child is being unrealistic, try not to squash a dream she has about a particular career. Encourage her to find out more about what the job involves.

2. Help your child find out more. Suggest that your child finds out more about the path she needs to follow to reach a particular goal. Will she need specific qualifications, or is work experience more important?

3. Find inspiration. People who have ‘made it’ can be very exciting to talk to, giving your child a first-hand account of what it took to achieve an ambition. Autobiographies can also be very inspirational.

4. Network. Use any contacts you our your friends may have to help your child meet the right people. Don’t be afraid to call in favours.

5. Gain work experience. There’s no substitute for hands-on experience. Encourage your child to find a work placement or job shadow. Just make sure she isn’t being exploited as ‘free labour’.

6. Encourage summer jobs or part-time work. For older children, part-time or freelance work is often a good route into a full-time occupation.

7. Read all about it. There are some excellent career guides for young people. Try Radio 1’s ONELife web pages at bbc.co.uk/radio1/onelife or connexionsdirect.com

8. Develop work skills. Encourage your child to learn and demonstrate essential career skills, such as reliability, adaptability, punctuality, calmness, organisation and time-management.

9. Be a positive role model. Too many children learn that work is a chore based on what they hear at home. Children of parents who enjoy their jobs tend to find great career satisfaction themselves.

10. Talk to career advisers. If your child has access to a school careers adviser, make the most of it. He or she will have the latest job information and could help your child to find a work placement.

Sally Coulthard, working mum and author of ‘The Parents’ Book Of Checklists – From Toddlers To Teenagers’

Where to next?

Gap years: A parents’ guide
Why should your child go to university?
The parents’ guide to exams