Don’t Pressure Teens About Careers

Like most adults well into their careers, I often ask teenage children of colleagues and friends what careers they want to pursue.  A few have ready answers, while most give vague responses. 

Some 40% of young people pursue careers similar to their parents.  I used to think that was a compliment to parents, but I now fear that this high percentage is caused due to pressure, both direct and subtle, that we place on young people who feel they must make career decisions too early in life.

Teachers, counselors and parents of teenage children should read the Career Couch Q&As in today’s New York Times.  The column urges adults to encourage children to pursue things they do well.  Such encouragement will lead them to career decisions that are not unduly influenced by adult pressure.  About.com also provides several excellent tips for parents wanting to help teens find career direction that most interests them. 

Career focus usually becomes clear sometime during the sophomore year in college, but that decision also can come much later.  The decision making process shouldn’t postpone internships, travel and work that relate to personal interests, not just what mom and dad or their friends recommend. 

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