Careers and other job search matters for teens

Ever get the impression there are more career choices than you need?

There are.

Between being told what you should do, figuring out what you want to do, and getting information overload, it's a mix of experiences.

The bottom line, however, is what you can do.

There's just the slight detail that what you want to do may not be what you can do.

You'll be pleased to hear there's a way around that.

Let's start with the choices.


Making a decision is as much about what you don't want to do as anything else. It's a bit like playing cards.


  • Anything which is really unlikely for academic reasons or prohibitive costs.
  • Anything which doesn't make good sense as a career choice.

Remember: This isn't like high school.

  • You have to do all the work yourself.
  • You get guidance, but you're the one putting in the hours learning, studying, and sweating your way through.
  • You can swap things around, in terms of courses, during the early phase, but only to a point. Ultimately, you're committed.

So make a choice you can live with.

Some of these choices can get very complex. This is where the conflict between what you can do and what you want to do has to get some careful handling.

This can be traumatic.

Say you're a good science student. You don't want to be an accountant. That's a no-brainer, but other choices are just as bad, and just as bizarre.

The problem in this case is that you've got the grades to be an accountant. You may be able to get in to a career based on grades, but have no interest in the career. Your choices are getting restricted by the grades.

This situation can be misleading. You need to try to make the grades work for you. That may take more patience than you would believe, but it's worth it.

Careers can lead anywhere

Let's say that you have two choices: What you can definitely do, and what you really want to be doing, which is something you really love.

Choice One is a certainty. You're sure you can get moving, do the degree, and start up.

Choice Two, the one you want, is currently much harder. You have the enthusiasm, but you don't have the right set of grades, or maybe resources, family support, or whatever.

What are the common elements?

Can you do Choice One, and leave the way open to Choice Two with common subjects, where you do have some of the grades? Is it possible for you to set yourself up to do at least some of what you need for Choice Two, while doing Choice One?

If not, there's one thing you need to know: To do what you want, you're going to have to use Choice One as the way of achieving Choice Two.

This is getting from A to B, again, but it's more complex, and takes longer.

Fortunately for you, history is working in your favor.

Careers are more flexible than they were. Nobody's stuck in the career created by their original qualifications these days.

Again, you have to think backwards, from where you want to be, and figure out the steps you need to take to get there.

Look at it this way:

Choice One requires ABCDEFG

Choice Two requires BDEGHIJ

You have ABCEDEFG in your grades. That means as far as Choice Two is concerned, you have BDEG. All you really need is HIJ.

How do you get them? The answer may be simpler than you think. Instead of battering your way through Choice One, you can probably find a way of doing HIJ separately. If you can do them locally, great.

If you can do them and get the right accreditation online, better, and maybe quicker, which is relevant, because these things use up time.

However, really isn't this simple.

You'll probably be 21-23 by the time you're qualified, after doing a full degree.So you don't want to spend forever on this. Choice One is a big commitment.


Even under the most impossible circumstances, where you just can't do Choice Two, the one you want, Choice One can help. It can pay for the HIJ qualifications you need, to start with, and if it's a decent career, with reasonable pay, you can do that pretty quickly. It can also pay for the rest of the career in Choice Two.

You wind up with a double degree, that's all. With Choice One working for you, you can avoid another student loan, too, which will save you a lot of money.

The rest of that story is just logistics. Arranging study, doing courses while working, it's all possible. It's a bit of a nuisance organizing everything, at least some of the time, but it pays off, eventually.

The Teenage Jungle is full of choices, and surviving those choices is the major issue, 99% of the time.

It's easy, too easy, to stray off target. You can lose track of things by being busy, or by being distracted just by being alive.

Always keep your real objectives clear.