Career Coach, Dearbhla Kelly has some useful pointers for those of you agonising over how you can help your son or daughter decide what to do upon completing school. In her book ‘Career Coach – A Step-by-Step Guide to Help Your Teen Find Their Life’s Purpose', Dearbhla interviews successful people such as garden designer Diarmuid Gavin and chef and restaurant owner Neven Maguire on their own career insights. Her book includes a simple methodology to help parents guide their children through the daunting career maze.
So, what practical steps does she recommend for parents?
Take the panic out of the situation.
“Take the pressure away, the teenage years are sufficiently difficult without - albeit well-meaning - parents heaping pressure on their children.”
Keep the doors of communication open.
“Keep talking to your children. Take the ‘side-door’ approach. Discuss careers with them when out for a walk, doing an activity or driving. Ask them open-ended questions about their experiences, about what they might like and affirm them. Tell them, ‘You have the ability and potential to make a success of yourself’.”
Start with the teenager, not the course.
“If somebody comes to me for career development and says, ‘I see all the jobs are in IT’, but they haven’t a blind bit of interest in technology, I know they won’t be happy in that area. People need to play to their strengths and what suits them in order to be happy in their career.”
Shine a light on what comes naturally to them – it will lead to greater self-awareness.
“Look at what flows from them. What motivates them, makes them curious? Are they motivated by a purpose to serve or to protect the environment for example?”
Be patient.
“Some people would like instantaneous answers, but trying to uncover what you want to do can be a lot of work. It can involve students work-shadowing, exploring various careers, and reflecting on what they are learning about.”
Remember, permanent and pensionable is not as prevalent as it was.
“Careers are not as linear as they were. We are in an era of contract employment and that can be a worry for parents. Parents and students need to realise that lifelong learning and continuous improvement are becoming the norm. People must be flexible and resilient.”
Do Transition Year
“Transition Year encourages personal growth and maturity. The more young people say ‘yes’ to things, the more they step outside of their comfort zones and the more self-aware they become. If you’re just staying in on the laptop or watching TV, you’re not going to stretch and develop yourself. The more you do, the more aware of your strengths you become. Transition Year can be powerful for this.”
Career Coach: A Step-by-step Guide to Help Your Teen Find their Life’s Purpose, by Dearbhla Kelly, is published by Gill & McMillan, €14.99. See for further details.
Career Coach and Guidance Counsellor