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When it comes to homeschooling your high schooler, one of the biggest challenges is to fulfil the credits for electives. I never wanted to just waste those credits so I always tried to find courses that not only my teen would enjoy but courses that would really help them. One of first courses I designed was Career Explorations. After all, when you have a teen that has no direction for what they want to do after graduation, the need for a course presents itself.
I prefer quality reading from various sources rather than a textbook. Also, my kids get bored easily with textbooks. I gathered several books for required reading that would assist anyone regardless of career choice.
Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations by Alex and Brett Harris. The very first required reading for a teenager (other than the Bible) needs to be this book. From two homeschool teens (at the time they wrote the book) who are challenged to do more than what society expects of them. I believe many people, not just teenagers, never live up to their full potential because no one expects them to and there is no drive for anything more than average.
The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success by Nicholas Lore. I recommend buying the book. Not the ebook. This will be worn by the time it’s completed. Make sure every exercise is done. This one contains the Myers Briggs test but goes even further.
Never Eat Alone, Expanded and Updated: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keith Ferrazzi. This is all about building relationships and networking.
How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. This one has to be on the list. Every. Single. Successful person I know recommends this golden oldie.
*Another book that I have discovered but after I wrote up this course is 120 Jobs That Won’t Chain You to Your Desk (Career Guides) by Princeton Review. It gives a real look at what to expect for 120 jobs ranging from advanced degrees to a strong will being required.
Only one of my kids is an avid book reader so I tried to keep the list short. If your teen loves to read, I would also recommend any book by Zig Ziglar (especially if they are interested in sales) or Stephen Covey.
Once there is a clearer direction of career interest, try to find any books pertaining to that field. I actually have found that any books in the children’s non-fiction section of the library gives a great overview or particular careers without heavy reading. This is especially helpful if there are still a lot of possibilites and they want to narrow their choices.
- Career One Stop. This site allows you to explore different careers, take a skill assessment, see job trends, and there’s even links where you can connect with an apprenticeship program near you.
- My Next Move. Some of the information overlaps from the site above but this is still pretty complete.
- Careers. Check out the podcasts!! Remember when I mentioned most of my kids don’t like to read? Well, they make up for it by loving to listen to podcasts. These are much shorter than reading a book and great information.
Job Shadowing and Interviewing
Once some career choices are narrowed down, nothing beats seeing the job in action. Of course, there are many jobs that will not allow a teen to job shadow but that’s mostly due to privacy, security or safety issues. In many of those cases, you might be allowed to arrange a short tour or an interview. People that love their job love to talk about their job. It is a great compliment for a teenager to ask someone if they can sit down and ask them about their career. Job shadowing is very much like “Take Your Son/Daughter to Work Day”. Your teen doesn’t even have to spend an entire day, usually a couple of hours will suffice.
Trust me, I know teens like money and getting them to volunteer once they reach the golden age of wage earner is sure to present its own challenge. However, many times a company will not hire someone without experience but might be willing to allow a teen that is considering that field to work a few hours a week. Make sure that each party is very clear on what is expected and don’t allow your teen to be taken advantage of —have a time frame for how long the arrangement will last.
Preparing for the Work Force
There are skills that every potential employee needs to master.
Write the Resume
It is easier to complete an application if you have all the information already organized and that’s why you need a resume. There are online samples and even a resume generator. Of course, your teen will probably need
to list courses instead of job experiences but it will be great practice. A resume should always be updated as jobs are gained or certificates/degrees earned. We also keep a resume for just our own benefit that lists all previous addresses and details of employments (salary, manager’s name and direct number).
You might also want your teen to learn how to write cover letters for resumes. Again, samples can be found online but the best ones are short and concise. The cover letter should never be more than a page.
Completing a Job Application
Many applications are now done online or at a kiosk at the business. Find some job applications online and complete them for practice. They don’t have to be submitted. Or go to businesses (usually retailers still have paper applications) to pick up applications. Teach your teen how to properly complete an application. Read it carefully first. Pay attention if it needs to be completed in blue or black ink. Application forms should be printed and only the signature in cursive. Do you have to write last name first?
I went to public school and one of my favorite classes was DECA. We learned about careers and my part-time job actually earned me credits. One of the most important skills learned was how to interview properly. Do not leave the interview up to chance. Practice with your teen. Start with introductions and a quick but firm handshake. Practice direct eye contact. Do not allow them to say “ummm” or “like” too often. Teach them to think of what they are going to say before speaking and then enunciate each word. Ask the hard questions because you know the interviewer will be asking them!
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- Why should we hire you?
- Why do you want this job?
- Tell me about yourself.
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- Be prepared to answer a question about ethics.
First impressions are lasting impressions. Don’t under dress or dress too trendy for an interview. Keep clothing, jewelry, hairstyle, and any makeup conservative. Sit down at the same time or wait to be invited to sit down.
It is best for you to teach your teen these things than it is to see them be disappointed by not getting a job they really wanted over something that could have easily been avoided. When I was a manager and conducted interviews, there were some things that immediately caused the person to be dismissed. Never, ever take a friend with you to pick up applications or to an interview. Don’t wear jeans. It doesn’t matter if jeans are okay for the job; it’s rarely ever acceptable for the interview.
We usually study Career Explorations for one semester. Keep track of the hours spent for high school credit. You might need to add more books or people to job shadow to get enough hours to earn a credit. We usually went over the amount of time our state required but I think it would really depend on how decisive your teen is on their career choice.
And one more thing…
There’s one more book I should mention.
Refuse to Choose!: Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams by Barbara Sher. This is not of of the required reading books. But I have to mention it. If you know anything about me or have read my bio, you know that I readily admit that I have what I call “Multiple Interest Disorder”. I love to do a variety of things and love to keep learning new things. I have discovered that I like to learn something enough to know that I can do it. Once I know that I can accomplish something, I don’t necessarily need to do it. I just need to have obtained the knowledge. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. And some of my kids have inherited this same trait. I wish I had read this book many years ago and although I have come to much of the same conclusion on my own, it’s nice to be validated. This is not for everyone. But if you have a teen that after doing everything else in this course, is still “lost”, let them read this book. It will give them the freedom to choose one interest for career and pursue the others as hobbies. Sometimes you do not get one clear direction and that doesn’t mean you are a failure.