By Karen Lomas
A student can commence career coaching at any year level and during any term of the school year. However, this blog serves to outline the activities that I recommend for 14 to 15 year-olds. Year 9 can be a pivotal school year, and there are a number of career activities that I find are enormously beneficial to your 14 or 15 year-old child.
Parents are hugely influential upon their children in terms of career choice, so I would encourage you to talk about jobs with your children whenever possible. The adage ‘you can only be what you can see’ is attributed to a few different people, but it’s fair to say that upbringing and environment informs our future choices. Talk to your children and ask them what jobs they have heard of so that they begin to understand other options.
Volunteering can provide a community outside of school and therefore new friendships can be made. It can also help a young person learn skills that are desirable to future employers. These are not only specific skill-sets such as using technology (such as a cash register) but also soft skills: using initiative, independently carrying out duties, and working successfully in a team.
During Year 9, your child will most likely turn 15 — by then they can apply for part-time or casual paid employment. This can be a vital learning opportunity for your child.
Part-time employment offers earnings, independence, growth in initiative-taking, development of confidence in interpersonal communications and skills acquisition — all of which engenders pride and self-growth.
Career assessments are really important career development resources and should be carried out as part of the process in deciding upon which curriculum your child follows. I recommend that career assessments, such as the Morrisby Online (MO) psychometric career assessment, are completed prior to (rather than during) Year 10.
How do the activities that are often available through your child’s school contribute to their career development? There are so many distractions that schools need to add excitement to the curriculum in order to entice 14 and 15 year-olds to pay attention. What better way than to start looking beyond the gates and four walls of the school buildings? This is the reasoning behind the importance of city excursions, outward-bound camps and community activities.
Any co-curricular activity that the school offers in Year 9 can be enormously beneficial to your child. Once they have carried out a community activity, the tasks that they were involved in can be added to a list of skills and embedded into their resume.
This is the term when school curriculum coordinators like to have every student’s subject choices locked in. This is because the administration required is lengthy and the timetables are hard to adjust for any late changes. This is particularly the case in smaller schools. In Year 9, students will be shown the details of what elective subjects are available in Year 10 and these choices can be really helpful in enabling the exploration of a subject previously never attempted. This is turn can open a young person’s eyes to a career opportunity.
Most State schools and some independent schools offer a Work Experience Program, which allows students to carry out a week-long placement with a local organisation. Often the student is required to find a placement themselves and there is a lot of administration to complete. This means that planning should take place well in advance of the placement period. Some schools have an allotted Work Experience week, perhaps halfway through Year 10, and this means that all of the students are in competition with each other for places.
Karen is a career coach specialising in early career exploration for school-aged students. This article is an edited excerpt of a longer blog post, published with permission — you can read the full version here.