Help your teen choose a career they'll love

QA Newsletter Graphic v4 04

Hi Careers NZ

My teenager gets a little off with me when I try to talk to them about their future plans, as though I don’t know what I’m talking about. I left school at 17 with no ideas but went to tech anyway. After that I got into the job I’m doing now, and I don’t like it that much.

Things have changed heaps, and there are so many choices out there. I really want them to plan now so they can get something they love and don’t spend a lot of money on a dud course. I want to let my child know that I get that things are different, but I want them to start thinking about their future. How do I give them better advice than I got when I was young, without getting their back up?”

Old-school mum, Wairoa.

Hi Old-school mum

Hackles can rise on teenager’s backs as soon as we start sharing our life experiences. But that doesn’t mean you don’t understand and can’t give valuable insights from your “lived it and learned it” past.

Choose your career chat moments carefully

As a good parent you’ll probably want to sit your teen down for a two-way conversation, and not a lecture on your views about their career choices.

You could start off by speculating about the career path of somebody they like on the tele. Or have a chat about their interests while dropping them off to music practise.

Be supportive of their dreams

Be open to the fact they might be into different ways of working from you, such as portfolio careers where they work more than one job, or becoming self-employed straight out of school. Or even wanting to be a YouTube star. 

Give positive encouragement and give your teen space to explore these ideas. 

When your teen has no dreams

Your teen may be getting shirty with your career questions because they haven’t decided what their dreams are yet. There may be too many options, or they may just not be that interested.

Let them know that this is perfectly OK. Asking the question “What would your life look like if you woke up one day and had everything you wanted?” can be a good way of getting confused teens excited about their future plans.

Talking about the money

You want your teen to follow their dreams and have some direction, but at the same time you don’t want them wasting money on a course that won’t get them anywhere.

Support their ideas and suggest they check out Careers New Zealand’s jobs database to find the right path into their career so they don’t study the wrong course.

Top 10 questions for a career chat

We’ve put together our 10 go-to questions to help you talk careers with your teen.

  1. What things do you like doing at school? Why?
  2. What are you into at the moment?
  3. I think you’re pretty good at … What do you think you’re good at?
  4. What do you want from your career and life when you leave school?
  5. How do you feel about life after leaving school?
  6. If you were given unlimited money, what would you do when you leave school?
  7. Who do you think has a pretty good career? Why?
  8. Do you know what you need to do to get your dream job?
  9. What plans have you got for how you’ll support yourself when you leave school?
  10. What do you think you need to do before you can leave school?

Find out more

Parent with a question?

If you have your own questions you want to ask, you can web chat, call or email us. We’d love to hear from you. 

Sign up to the Careers Insight e-newsletter for parents

The Careers New Zealand team