How can Teens Create Great Careers?

Don’t pick a career with great vacation time, pick one that doesn’t need escaping from _ Unknown

careersRecently we ran a Careers Workshop for a Transition Year Group in an all-boys secondary school in Kildare. In Ireland at least, students are barraged with advice on how to pick their university courses, plan their careers, write CV’s, calculate CAO points and fill out CAO forms when they are in the midst of their senior cycle. We feel that this is probably not the most helpful approach. Students in 5th and 6th year quite often feel overwhelmed as it is with the leaving cert looming on the horizon.


On the other hand – Transition year, the in-between place between the junior and senior cycle, is the ideal time to start thinking about the all important question of “What do I want to be when I grow up?” So when the idea of running a Careers workshop for Transition year students came about, we were as excited to take on this opportunity as much as the students.


In the workshop, we sidestepped the standard ‘Careers Development’ fare entirely. In fact no advice on CV’s, CAO forms or interviews was given whatsoever.


Instead we focused on the fundamental basics for any truly satisfying career: Know thyself.


Without having spent some time really thinking about what makes us tick, i.e. our unique strengths, values and motivation, knowing how to fill out a CAO form or write a perfectly laid out CV is a waste of time and potential hazard to our future happiness and success.


Knowing what is important to us, what sort of things we do particularly well, what we enjoy doing etc.  and taking due heed can pay big dividends in the long run. We spend about 32% of our (working age) lives at work. Thus, it is hardly surprising that when we are happy in our jobs, we tend to be happier in general. Furthermore, happier people are more likely to succeed in their careers. Organisations and the economy also benefit, as job satisfaction predicts lower levels of turnover, sick leave and apathy.


However, the vast majority of us are unhappy in our jobs. According to a Gallup poll, only about 13% of people are happy and engaged in their jobs. The rest range from dissatisfied to outright miserable.


Young people may be taught the skills to get a good leaving cert – but when it comes to the kinds of skills required for career and personal success there is a major gap. This comes at a major price.


One of the exercises we carried out with the group was on values. It was quite straightforward: we showed a list of about 50 values, and asked them to pick out their top 10. Then we got them to discuss their top 3-5 in small groups and why they were important to them. Then we asked them how these values could be important when it comes to choosing a career goal. Afterwards most of them admitted that they had never thought about it before.


So how can teenagers create careers they will love and excel in? Alan Watts says it well…



The Positive Performance Academy offers career consulting and career workshops for people of all ages. If you are interested in what we do or how the team from the Positive Performance Academy can support you in your career contact us here >>


1 Comment

  1. Stahlman's Gravatar Stahlman
    March 17, 2015    

    Thanks for this post! I really enjoyed reading it,
    I will remember to bookmark your blog!

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