How to motivate your teen to find a job they’ll love

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Welcome to the first of our new Q&A series – a column dedicated to answering questions from parents about their children’s work and learning choices. 

Hi Careers NZ

My 18-year-old son finished school last year and he hasn’t enrolled in a course or looked for a full-time job. He does work part time for a fast food restaurant, but when he’s not working all he seems to do is play video games. I find it really hard to motivate him to do anything. I have no idea what interests him outside of gaming and eating me out of house and home!

Gamer to Go-getter  

Hi Gamer to Go-getter

Motivation is a tough nut to crack because at the end of the day it has to come from the person themselves. This doesn’t mean to say there aren't loads of ways you can support your son to unlock his interests and skills. 

Where to start? 

There are so many study and job options available today that it can often feel like information overload for young people. One way to tackle this is to chat to your son about careers when you’re both relaxed. Start with a general talk about his day – “What were the highlights?” and “How do you feel working at the fast food restaurant versus when you’re gaming?” You could try asking, “What didn’t you enjoy about your day today?” as people can often more easily express what they don’t like rather than what they do like.

If you’re watching television together you could use the show to spark some ideas! For example, during Border Control you could ask the question, “What do you think it would take to become a dog handler or customs officer?” If you're driving in the car you could ask him, “If you could do any job in the world, what would it be?"

On our website there are many different tools that help young people explore their interests, and potential jobs based on these interests. Try the following tools with your son – the results might surprise you!

Explore interests

Now you’ve talked about what he isn’t so keen on, try asking some questions about what activities make him happy and what your son thinks he’s good at. The old saying “choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” has some truth because when we choose a course or job based on our interests, we’re more likely to stick at it.  Try doing our CareerQuest with your son. This online questionnaire will recommend career options based on his interests.  

Match favourite subjects to jobs

As a recent school-leaver your son can get job ideas based on the subjects he took. Encourage him to use our easy online tool Subject Matcher. Once he’s entered his subjects the tool will generate a range of jobs across different industries. We don’t know what we don’t know, so the beauty of this tool is it exposes young people to a whole lot of options they didn’t know existed.

Get the real deal on jobs

If any of the jobs Subject Matcher generate interest your son, he can scope them out on our jobs database. Simply search for the job together and find out everything from the pay and job prospects to what qualifications, skills or knowledge he’ll need. He will even find the job of game developer if he wants to turn his hobby into a career. With good job prospects and pay, game developer is an up-and-coming job of the future.

Jobs school-leavers can get with NCEA behind them

If your son decides he doesn’t want to do any tertiary study, but wants to look for full-time employment, our Where to from school? ebook will help him identify what jobs he can get with NCEA Levels 1-3 under his belt.

Gamer to Go-getter, our team at Careers New Zealand are here to help you and your son make work and learning choices. Motivation is something many young people struggle with and it’s often a result of being unsure about the many options available.

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. 

The Careers New Zealand team