Inspiring Passion and Providing Insight Into Future Career Pathways For Teens

Danielle Herschitz

Between the countless parenting books, timeless coming-of-age stories, any modern movie about high schoolers, and “hard facts” from developmental psychology, it’s clear that being a teenager is tough. But what tools and advice might help guide their decisions about the future?

When considering future career options, the self-discovery and experimentation that characterize the teen years can be a valuable guiding resource. Searching for jobs and extracurriculars that fit their talents, interests and personality type can help teens narrow their career options and begin building a resume for future interviews and applications.

Danielle Herschitz explores some ways for teens and their supporters to start exploring the need for a future career without getting overwhelmed at the many possibilities.

Building a Base of Self-Knowledge

Under ideal conditions, everyone would be able to find and pursue a career that feels less like a money-earning chore than like a fulfilling vocation. While not everyone will have the good fortune of finding this fulfillment, encouraging children and adolescents to explore potential career options from a young age can help them envision a future worth working towards.

A good starting point for teens trying to narrow down their potential career paths is to figure out what types of activities they enjoy, what interests them and where their values lie. Online personality tests can help teens identify their strengths and begin to consider which professions might be the most compatible with their personality type.

For example, someone whose test reflects a deep concern for the well-being of others might consider a career in nursing or teaching. On the other hand, someone whose test results suggest a high level of introversion might consider steering away from jobs that involve a lot of personal interactions and public speaking.

With a clear personal goal in mind, students are more likely to view their education as a steppingstone toward a future career and to invest themselves in their schoolwork more fully. Engaging in enjoyable extracurricular activities can also help them become more involved with topics that interest them.

Participating in these activities has many potential benefits. While helping teens build soft skills as they make connections with those who share their interests, extracurriculars can also help them identify role models to use as a source of inspiration and guidance.

Resume-Building and Gaining Experience

To be considered for most positions, it’s important for candidates to have a professional resume listing their skills, involvements, achievements, and prior experience. While it may seem silly to include things like middle school student council or high school theater club, they may work in an applicant’s favor by showing dedication or a specific area of interest or prior instruction.

Here are a few simple ways to boost a resume before even entering the job market:

  • Volunteer
  • Join or start a club
  • Get an apprenticeship
  • Get an internship
  • Babysit

Although having a rounded resume can help attract a potential employer’s attention, even “unofficial” experiences can be highly beneficial. Talking to a relative or family friend about their work, shadowing a parent in the office or exploring the responsibilities and training involved in a job online can make what may seem like a far-off future feel more within reach.

Danielle Herschitz

Finding and Using Available Resources

In addition to individual research, there are many counseling resources and prep programs that teens can turn to for guidance. Many high schools have counselors who work specifically to prepare students for college and assist in the application process. Some schools also offer workshops on creating resumes and cover letters, as well as interview preparation guidance.

School counselors may also organize college or career fairs, which make it easy to compare options, ask questions and interact with recruiters and representatives.

For teens whose career paths don’t require college education, getting an apprenticeship is a great way to build connections and gain experience while learning and training alongside professionals.


While finding a career path is almost never easy, the sooner teens begin exploring their options, the better equipped they will be when the time comes to make important future-oriented decisions. Observing and following their natural interests and values can be an easy way for teens to start narrowing their choices to find which profession might be the best match for them.

Danielle Herschitz
Danielle Herschitz