Work experience and professional maturity
One of the factors influencing the choice of study field and career is work experience, in the form of apprenticeship for teenagers.
The opportunity for a young person to learn by the side of professionals and gain work experience plays a decisive role in their final career choice. Teenagers benefit on many levels from that, as they:
- Become familiar with the work environment.
- Assimilate scientific knowledge.
- Develop valuable life skills, such as responsibility, collaboration, politeness, problem solving, time management, ability to follow instructions, respect for hierarchy and communication.
- Gain career maturity. The social aspect of maturity includes skills related to special knowledge and information that individuals have to develop. Such skills are determination, self-awareness, ability to perform roles, ability to take responsibility, ability to compromise and adaptability.
For teenagers to acquire those skills it is important:
- To start working from a young age (e.g., taking a summer job), as they gain much more than pocket money. They become more flexible, learn important life skills, test their limits and become more patient and resilient in the face of challenges. Moreover, they become better at job interviews, build their CV, enhance their social skills and are less likely to become unemployed.
- For parents to encourage apprenticeships. This way, they help their children become more independent and set them up for making their own choices and decisions.
Teenagers need to avoid mistakes caused by the use of poor-quality self-help tools (e.g. random online tests and questionable questionnaires). Such hasty decisions cause problems in the individual’s personal and social development, particularly when they are tied to the choice of study field and career. One wrong decision inevitably affects the next one, and any future steps in the individual’s professional life.
A flexible career path
The professional path of any young person cannot and should not be linear (e.g. I study to become a doctor and then work only as a doctor until I retire). Young people should be aware of the fact that during their lifetime, they will face many different professional choices, which may not always be related to their study field.
Getting your first job based on your study field is good, but future jobs may not always be related to that particular study field. This way, teenagers can visualise a more flexible career path, within their general field of study.
Modern day professionals need such skills as:
- Tolerance for change.
- Emotional resilience.
- Organizational skills and openness to new experiences.
- Ability to re-adapt and use their basic knowledge to settle in new work environments.
- Ability to solve complex practical problems.
The tips were compiled by Vicki Pavlidi, Special Educator (MA), Educational Psychologist (MSc, HCPC/UK) and Career Counsellor (MA).