I receive so many inquiries from parents and teens about careers and College/University searches. I find with my job as a School Counselor and all of the time restraints due to testing, scheduling, etc. that I am limited to give every student the time I really think they need to truly discover their interests and potential careers. I spend a lot of time talking about deadlines for applications to Colleges/Universities and for scholarships but it leaves me with very little time for discussion and helping students really dig and explore what careers or career areas they should pursue further. I thought it may be helpful to put together a suggestion for summer activities. Our teens tend to have a bit more down time in the summer and I think doing some or all of these suggestions may put students in a better place once the next school year rolls around. When I created this list I based much of it on the fact that our teens really are very committed during the school year and I feel these suggestions would fit nicely during the summer months and would also help alleviate some of the pressure and work teens face during the school year. So here we go:
- Encourage your teen to talk about the past school year and really look at one or two areas where they feel they could have made some improvements. Many procrastinate, some don’t feel they really know how to study, and others don’t feel very organized. Encourage your teen to set one or two goals for the next school year to address these areas.
- It’s important for teens to keep a log listing all of the activities they do throughout the year and summer is a great time to update their log. Often when teens become seniors in high school and are asked on college and scholarship applications what activities they were involved in, they become overwhelmed and dazed as they try to recall everything they did during the past four years. I encourage students to put EVERYTHING, no matter how small it seems to them. I’ve had students list everything from Blood Donor to Student Aide to Vocalist at a Christmas Church Service. It’s important that Colleges/Universities and scholarship committees see all that our teens are involved in so updating this list yearly helps students not lose track of everything they do.
- Another suggestion I make to students to do during summer break is to find a small part time job or volunteer. It is important for our teens to have experiences working with others although I let students know it doesn’t have to be many hours because some find it just too difficult to add to what they are already committed to in the summer and that is fine. Also, if the job or volunteer opportunity can be in a career area that they find interesting, even better!
- Encourage your teen to check out these resources for career exploration. Many times teens come to me panicking about not knowing what they want to do for the rest of their lives. I attempt to calm them down a bit because I feel as if there are plenty of adults still running around unsure what they really want to do. However, I do believe it is important for teens to get to know themselves better and explore different career areas. Here are my favorite resources:
Career Finder – www.insidejobs.com/careers
Career One Stop – www.careeronestop.org
My Next Move – www.mynextmove.org
Quest Career test – http://www.e4s.co.uk/blogs/jobs/career-test-how-to-choose a-job/
Quiz Rocket – http://www.quizrocket.com/career-quiz
What Color is Your Parachute? For Teens – Carol Christen
Career Match: Connecting Who You Are With What You’ll Love To Do – Shoya Zichy
Getting Real: Helping Teens Find Their Future – Kenneth Gray
Careers: The Graphic Guide to Finding The Perfect Job for You – by DK
Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type – by Paul Teiger, Barbara Barron, and Kelly Teiger
- I also encourage students to put time into preparing for the ACT and/or SAT during the summer months. There are so many resources available today for students, everything from websites to apps for their phones.
- Summer break is also the perfect opportunity to job shadow once or twice in a career area of interest. I encourage students to ask family or other adults in their lives about any connections they have to the careers they are interested in. Students can also inquire with their school counselors for connections as well. Job shadowing is such a valuable experience that many students need to take advantage of. It is the best way to really see what someone does day to day in particular careers.
- This suggestion is especially important for students who will be seniors during the next school year. Many colleges and universities are using the Common Application (www.commonapp.org) for their admission application and while it is very lengthy, it is a time saver due to the fact that you complete one application online and can send it to multiple colleges and universities. Common Application has already released the essay prompts that will be used for the application for next year, so I encourage students to get a head start on those essays and have the essay proofread multiple times by an English teacher. In addition, I encourage incoming senior students to be searching for colleges and universities they will want to be applying to in the fall. Furthermore, investing time and applying for scholarships is so important! Here are two of my favorite online resources:
- And last but not LEAST! I encourage teens to relax and enjoy time with their family and friends. This break is so necessary to get fueled back up for the next school year!