Homeschooling Your High Schooler with Heart Series: Part 3 – Job Boards: A Modern Way for Teens to Research Careers
Ask children what they want to be when they grow up and, depending on their age, you may get amusing answers that will remain etched in your family history. Through the years, they may have answered everything from “major league baseball player” or “veterinarian” to even “the president” or “rich!” Whatever the answers, it’s fun to explore career options with your kids. As teens get older and closer to making decisions and pursuing their futures, it’s time to get serious with career exploration, but it can still be fun! Share your work insight and experience and guide them to use their gifts and abilities.
Here’s a modern way to prep your high schoolers for the world of work. Introduce your teens to job boards. Think of job boards like modern day classified ads. (Remember looking through the job listings in the newspaper only a couple of decades ago?) Check sites like Indeed.com or ZipRecruiter.com to browse the current job market. It’s a fun way to help your child see a picture of the real world of work.
Start a search by visiting an online job board site with your teen and simply entering the “what” and “where.” Enter a job title of interest, such as “psychologist” or “project manager,” and a desired location. A list of jobs will pop up. Click on the interesting ones and explore! Job board sites offer the option to make a free account. Consider making one in your name or in your child’s name, as you deem appropriate. Accounts generate daily job alert emails with updated job listings based on the options you choose such as location, salary, etc.
What Job Boards Teach Teens
Career exploration using job boards is a fantastic teacher. Plenty of information is available that will help your teen determine if a career path is worth pursuing. Look together for these specifics and learn right along with your child.
- Salary estimates—Check what a desired job pays. Spending time on job boards will help your teen develop realistic pay expectations. Is the job under consideration something that will provide an income or supplement an income? Is it enough for a family to live off of?
- Education requirements—Find out if a high school diploma suffices or if an associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, or a doctoral degree is required or advantageous. Balance the cost of a required education with the salary estimate. Will the educational investment pay off? If so, at what point?
- Experience level—Take note that in many cases, employers appreciate or even require experience. Sometimes experience can take the place of a degree. Compare and contrast a new doctor, fresh out of med school, and a doctor with decades of experience. In that scenario, is education or experience more useful?
- Licensing requirements—Find out if any credentials are required. How are they obtained? Is testing involved?
- Location—Select cities in which to work. Explore whether the salary estimates are similar or different between large and small cities. Talk about the advantages and sacrifices of living in a new area. How can a young professional make personal connections in new surroundings?
- Shifts—Select from options like day, on-call, overnight, no weekends, etc. Note whether the pay increases or decreases with various shifts. What are the personal implications for certain types of shift commitments?
- Remote potential—Look for whether a desired job can be hybrid remote (with some office appearances required), temporarily remote, or a fully remote position should that interest your teen. Discuss the pros and cons of remote work vs. working on site for a corporation.
- Time commitment—Notice what is available regarding full-time, part-time, contract, or temporary. Note which companies are searching for interns.
Learning How to Apply
Familiarity with job boards will even help your child gain an understanding of various application processes. Watch for what various companies require. Some simply need an application, others want a cover letter with a resume, some require only a resume, and yet others ask screening questions.
Here are a few more ways to help your high schooler prepare for the application process:
- Experience—Help your child start a simple document to fill any work experience gained already in high school. Include start and end dates, location, manager’s name, starting and ending pay, etc. No doubt your child will refer to this helpful list time and again, and you won’t be scrambling to remember the specifics.
- References—Who can your child count on to provide an honest, yet complimentary reference? Most people are honored to be asked to serve as a reference. Encourage your child to reach out to a reference before listing that reference’s name on a job application. That way a neighbor, instructor, pastor, former manager, etc., has time to formulate a positive response and isn’t taken off guard.
- Portfolio—If your child is interested in pursuing a career in writing or graphic design or something similarly creative, note that a portfolio of work samples or links may be required. Start building that portfolio now.
Is Freelancing Feasible?
Upwork.com is another fun site to explore with your teen. It’s a site that connects freelancers with companies looking for talent. You’ll be amazed at the types of freelance opportunities appearing on Upwork: logo designer, video editor, Korean to English translator, fashion designer, digital artist, etc. Maybe something unique will pique your child’s interest and help him or her decide whether freelancing is a viable option or possibly even a source of income to pursue on the side while in college.
Resources if College Is under Consideration
If your career research helps determine that college is a necessary part of your child’s goals, The Old Schoolhouse® has a couple of helpful resources. The Homeschool College Directory lists homeschool-friendly higher education institutions worth exploring. The National Academic Homeschool Competition is another resource that will prepare your teen for SAT and ACT prep and will educate your family on college financing options. The NAHC is a virtual competition that is an exclusive opportunity for homeschooled teens. The Old Schoolhouse® is offering the NAHC for a second year in conjunction with College Options Foundation with sponsorship by CTCMath and Colorado Christian University.
Get started on career exploration right away with your high schooler. There isn’t a rush; rather, watching job boards is an interesting activity that can last for months or throughout high school. Change settings as your child establishes a growing understanding of job options. Research early in high school to determine if there are high school, elective, or dual enrollment courses that can be achieved now to help prepare for future goals. Keep records of any coursework that may be relevant for future jobs. Enjoy exploring options right along with your child and enjoy the many opportunities job boards will provide for discussion and guidance.
Here are the links to the previously published parts 1 and 2 of the Homeschooling Your High Schooler With Heart series:
- Homeschooling Your High Schooler with Heart Series: Part 1—Certificates: A Higher Ed Option Worth Considering for Your Teen
- Homeschooling Your High Schooler with Heart Series: Part 2—Parent and Teen Talk Homeschool College Prep with the NAHC