Gill Books - Reading Matters



Career Coach: A Step-by-Step Guide to Help Your Teen Find Their Life's Purpose

10-08-2015 14:30

Purpose defines who are and what we do in life. Some people have a clear idea of their purpose and career path from a young age. Others discover their purpose by rising to a challenge or stepping out of their comfort zone. For many, life purpose and the discovery of their vocational calling is a gradual process.


Career Coach is unlike other books in that it not just full of lists of information on courses or getting a job. This book is full of tips and techniques for parents to help teenagers discover a career path that will bring happiness, passion, meaning and purpose. Here’s a sneak preview of Dearbhla’s ten tips for helping your teen find work that they’ll love:


1. Good communication is the bedrock of career conversations.

Listening, asking open questions, giving choices and affirming your teenager are all ways to help conversations flow better between you. Using the ‘side door’ approach (chatting to them while driving, walking or doing an activity) can lead to greater ease in conversations.

2. Encourage them to get curious about the things that they love to do.

When it comes to purpose and meaning it is important that your teen develops self-awareness. Encourage them to track their energy and notice when they feel more engaged, enthusiastic and interested in what they are doing.

3. Suggest that they look closely at what skills they like using.

Explore with your teen what skills they enjoy using. Are these skills mainly with people, things, information or ideas? In what order? What skills flow naturally from your teen?

4. Discuss the value of meaning and purpose in study and work.

The things that matter most to your teen will point to their values. Values are like the rudder on the boat that steer us in the direction of purpose. What does your teen care most about? Is it health, the environment, justice, innovation, creativity, wealth generation and so on? What they are most moved by is a good indication of their inner calling or vocation.

5. Point out to them how personality may influence careers. Is your teen an introvert, extrovert or a mix of both?

Does their chosen career suit their personality? Consider in what way are they intelligent? Familiarise yourself with ‘multiple intelligences’ and ask yourself, “is my teen playing to their strengths?” Look at learning styles (Visual, Auditory, and Kinaesthetic). In particular, if your teen is kinaesthetic and learns by moving and doing, try to ensure that their studies and career allows for movement and action.

6. Most of all encourage your teen to test out the world of work.

This will allow you as a parent to try before you buy and invest your money. By conducting research and informational interviews, your teen can scope out careers and college courses. Get them to interview people who are doing the work that they are interested in. Volunteering in their field of interest gives them a taste of reality. Work shadowing a person in a preferred field also leads to informed choices.

7. Encourage flexibility and bounce-back-ability.

Prepare your teen to get ready for opportunities and chance happenings. It is important that they step out of their comfort zones and take on new challenges. Prepare your teen for adversity as well as success. Things might not unfold as expected. Have a plan B in mind.

8. No matter what the outcome is for your teen, support them in holding tight to their dreams.

Try not to impose your dreams and wishes on your teen. When teens are forced to do courses, it can have a negative effect on their mental health and happiness later on in life. We can all identify people around us who aren’t happy in their jobs. When we meet people who love their work, their enthusiasm is uplifting.


9. It is not the grades that your teen gets that will determine their success in life.

Attitude is the key to success. Point out to your teen that an excellent attitude will get them anywhere. As Zig Ziglar said, “It’s your attitude not your aptitude that determines your altitude”. Familiarise yourself with the attitudes that employers are looking for. Encourage your teen to cultivate an excellent attitude by participating in clubs, societies, volunteering or work while on a training course or in college.

10. ‘Find the Gold’ in your teen.

Along the way, point out your teen’s strengths and find the gold in what they do. Build their confidence by giving them specific positive feedback. Praise their efforts and approach, rather than their grades and outcomes. Even if it takes your teen a little longer through Access courses, Further Education or doing a graduate entry programme, they will still get there in the end.


Career Coach will be published by Gill Books on Friday, 14th August 2015, priced at €14.99.

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