Abingdon News No.49

The Career Maze: How Parents Can Help by Michael Triff, Head of Career Guidance I’m the parent of two teenagers. You would be forgiven if you presumed that my kids enjoy the benefit of having a careers adviser as a father; the truth is that (often) they don’t. Have you ever served up a nugget of advice from your own career only to see your son wince and quickly reach for his headphones? And, have you then seen how, when someone else offers exactly the same advice, he assiduously makes notes. Same message, different messenger. Makes all the difference. But don’t lose heart, because parents can – and should – play a significant role in guiding their children through the career maze. In fact, research suggests that the biggest influence on a pupil’s career thinking comes from parents. Of course, not all parents – indeed, not all teachers – believe that educational choices should be made with career considerations in mind. While choosing A Level subjects at age 16 or a single or joint degree course at age 18, based purely on interest and ability and without career considerations, may work out just fine, there is plenty of scope for error. I say, why take the chance? The right intervention, at the right time, might reveal a different perspective. For parents looking to help their son, here are a few ideas for starters. • Talk to him about what he enjoys doing, what he is (or could become) good at, and what gives him personal satisfaction and reward. • Ask him questions that facilitate exploration of his thoughts and foster confidence in his ideas. • Remind him that there are many different occupations from which to choose (including many on the ‘road less travelled’) and excellent online resources available to research them. • Encourage and enable him to pursue his ambitions, even if you don’t share his enthusiasm. • Take him to your workplace, talk to him about what you do and where your career path has taken you, and identify the knowledge and skills you have used along the way so he gets a sense of what the world of work is like, understands how careers evolve, and realises that he will need to prepare himself, whatever he does. • Urge him to attend career events, fairs and talks at school and to undertake work experience. • Encourage his participation in a range of extra-curricular activities, in and out of school, through which he can build a whole host of capabilities valuable in a career and life. And, finally, support of – and show you have confidence in – his eventual decisions. Details about the Abingdon School Career Guidance Programme are available online at: www.abingdon.org.uk/careers 16 January 2019