Survival Skills for teens preparing for their career

Survival and skills are interrelated, on just about every imaginable level, anywhere, in any profession, in any job.

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Survival is an art, as much as a science. Skills are priceless. They're portable, they're transferable, they're a way of making money and keeping a roof over your head.

They're that important, and now is when you have to acquire a few skills.

It's fine to think you can just sail through high school and college, and grab your dream career, but most people just can't do that. They have to be able to survive the years of study, costs, and the rest of the inconveniences associated with of simply being a living human being.

If you're starting college, or in between, you'll be well aware of the effects of being short of money, short of opportunities, and getting pretty sick of TV.

This is when life stops being a charity, (if it ever was) and you have to start paying for the things you want and need.

To do that, you need marketable skills, something people are prepared to pay you to do.

This usually means training, paid work, part time jobs, summer jobs, and virtually anything that can trap you in an office or wherever the work/money happens to be.

For any teenager, being told Get A Job, Don't Have Fun, etc., is more annoying than practical advice.

(You'd think adults, who went through exactly the same thing, or at least their version of it, would remember that.)

However- It also gives you some financial independence, which, let's face it, isn't all bad, and allows you a bit of freedom.


You also don't actually have to suffer, if you do a bit of thinking about what you can do, what you want to do, and what your current skill levels are.

Skills: A few things to consider

Work creates skills, and lots of them, very quickly. You can become an expert in a whole range of things after just a few months on the job. For teens, that's actually a plus. You get these skills at a very basic level, where you learn the fundamentals.


The chances to learn skills are based on what the environment can provide. Depending on what you can get, you could find yourself with either good, or lousy, choices.

Your own talents

You already know what you're good at, to a point. If you have a hobby, a sport, or really good grades related to paying work, you have a real chance at getting something that will pay well, and be reliable as a way of paying your way through the next few years.

That's a major advantage, DO NOT DISREGARD.

Better to do what you like doing than something you just have to do because you need the money. Anything that can lock in a working income and some credible work experience is extremely valuable. It could also pay for a career, or even become a career.

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Sometimes who you know is worth the effort. If you can find work which gives skills by networking, go for it. In small towns, or anywhere where work is hard to find, it may be the only real workable option.

Recognizing opportunities

Some things look pretty unexciting. A job in a delicatessen, for example, doesn't look like a passport to anything but an unhealthy degree of familiarity with cheeses, sausages, and forms of preserved meat.

However- In terms of skills, it also means:

  • Retail experience
  • Customer service
  • Cash and basic money handling experience
  • Delis, believe it or not, are high fashion foods, in many cultures.They're specialists, and they're major business, in some communities.

It's not being suggested for a second you're doing anything other than working in a deli, but that's what you can do for yourself, in terms of learning skills.

Retail, customer service, cash and basic money handling experience are skills you can take with you anywhere. They apply across just about all businesses.

(As a matter of fact, the lowly regarded retail sector is probably the best introduction to basic business practices you could wish to find. All of the experience is useful. Even sweeping the floor is about how the place presents itself to customers.)

See what we mean about skills being portable? This applies to any job. You get a lot of skills, for life. At this stage, they're money in the bank for you.


Those trying to find their first job could be forgiven for thinking that you have to have the experience to get the job, but you can't get the experience without the job, that it's a chicken and egg thing.

No, it isn't.

There's not an employer or trainer alive (nor should there be) who doesn't understand the need for a new generation with the right skills. Just about all the sciences and all the industries, globally, are screaming for new trainees, and that they can't get enough people with even the basic skills, to train.

Even the public sector, that fountain of relevance and sanity, has managed to grasp that idea.

The younger generation is always the one that has to take up the slack. You're in with a good shot because just about everyone recognizes that fact.

Your generation, like it or not, is the future. Wince a bit, if you think it'll help, but that's what you're being loaded up with, in bulk quantities, in high school, in college, and on the job.

The major positive is that you can walk in anywhere, and say you want to get trained, learn the skills.

Let's say you're entirely behind the eight ball. No opportunities for a job, can't do much in terms of learning skills that way.


Community colleges. You can learn anything, literally. It's almost impossible to get out of one of these places without something tangible and useful. They're also very handy for things like basic skills, anything from cash handling and bookkeeping through to administration and other essentials. They don't use up a lot of time, either, which is another positive.

Night school: Much the same thing, better for those who have work and still need to study, but will do the job.

Apprenticeships: These are solid gold. If you have a real ability in a trade, an apprenticeship can make you a very secure, highly qualified, not to say rich, person. There's a lot of work, but there's a lot of rewards.

Internships: Some pay, some don't, some are great, some are hard work, but they provide experience in bucket loads. They're irrefutable proof of skills.

Online courses: Accredited only. (Don't even think about doing anything not accredited. If the skills aren't recognized, they're worthless.) Fortunately, a lot of very good, reputable, and particularly well known colleges and other educational institutions have decided to put some courses online, and they do deliver the skills, and the plausibility your qualifications need. That makes life a lot easier for teens trying to prove they can do a job.

Community organizations: Some, like Rotary Clubs, often run a range of possible options for education and learning skills, but they're a very mixed bag. Spend a bit of time checking them out, because there's almost certain to be something for younger people. They can also generally offer you some pointers, or maybe even some leads.

Volunteer work: This is real learning of skills, in what can be a very demanding environment, but it definitely leads somewhere. You'll find those skills, and any references you get from those organizations, are highly respected, and universally recognized. They can lead to places and careers you mightn't have even considered.

Local Chamber of Commerce: Believe it or not, the local Chamber of Commerce isn't just a collection of business guys and shopkeepers hanging around complaining about the local government.

These people are the economic drivers of your local community. What they don't know about the local economy, employment and training, and the need for people in the local workforce, usually isn't worth knowing.

They're worth a phone call, on principle, and if you know anyone in the Chamber of Commerce, they can probably tell you at least something useful about what's available locally, or tell you how not to waste your time. They're also experienced people, most of them are employers, and they won't be totally indifferent if teens in the area can't find work.

Skills are findable, wherever you go

Even if you're living in a desert, if you have a phone, an net connection, and about ten spare seconds, you can start putting together your survival skills.

These options are always open.

This is one part of the jungle where you can really be sure not to get yourself lost in the haze of possibilities.