IN THEIR OBSESSION WITH getting kids into college, American high schools neglect to teach teens how to find jobs that are right for them. So, young people need to teach themselves, according to author Carol Christen. “We’ve indoctrinated teens with the notion that you can do this later,” said Christen, who has co-written a book to help kids find their place in the work world. “What Color Is Your Parachute? For Teens,” published by Ten Speed Press, is a new take on a top-selling book about job-hunting by Christen’s co-author, Richard Nelson Bolles. Bolles’ original “What Color Is Your Parachute?
” has sold 8.
5 million copies. Bolles, an Episcopal priest, wrote it for fellow ministers who were losing their jobs. It became the job-seeker’s bible. People need time to figure out what work suits their interests and talents – so the sooner they get started the better, Christen believes. “My mission is to smarten young people up,” said Christen, who has done extensive career counseling with teens. “When it comes to what they’re going to do after high school, they go brain-dead.
” In a survey she did of adults age 18 to 28, 38% of the people who responded said their knowledge of the world of work was extremely limited when they graduated from high school. And they’d have made different career choices if they’d known more. When teens get an idea of what jobs they want to pursue, they’re better able to pick a college major or choose technical training programs that will prepare them for work they like, Christen said. SIDEBAR: TIPS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE ENTERING THE WORLD OF WORK -Figure out what your interests are. The book has “discovery exercises” that will help you carry out this and other steps in preparing for the world of work. It’s important to base your work on your interests – because people who do jobs they’re passionate about are far more likely to be successful than those who choose a career solely because they think it will make money, said author Carol Christen. -Let your skills point the way to work that suits you. When it comes to working for a living, your “best” skills are the ones you most enjoy using, Christen said. -Ask yourself: What kind of people do you like to spend time with? This can help you figure out what kind of work you would like. There are six categories: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising and Conventional. When you rank your first, second and third choices in order, the first letter of each word gives you what’s called your Holland Code. There are no-fee Web sites that offer descriptions of jobs you’d probably like, based on your personal Holland Code. For instance, www.
org. Click on the heading “Assess Yourself” on the Web site’s home page, then choose “Quick Assessment.
” -Ask yourself: Where do you want to live and work? “Your heart has its own geography, where it prefers to be,” Christen said. -Make appointments to talk with people who do jobs that interest you. This is called “information interviewing,” and it’s something that adults should do, too, when they’re trying to find jobs. When you call companies, ask to meet with the youngest people who are doing the work you want to know about. Their experience will be more relevant to you than that of older people. Send thank-you notes to the people you interview. -Use your summer jobs to get exposure to possible future careers. -Arrange to follow an adult who does a job that intrigues you through a day at work. This is called “shadowing.
” The National Job Shadow Coalition – at www.
org – can tell you more. -Find a mentor in a field that interests you – through www.
org. -If you can’t find an internship, propose one to a company or agency where you might like to work in the future. You won’t get paid, but the experience will be priceless. [email protected]
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