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Cayman Parent | Articles | Expert Advice | From Learning To Earning: Transitioning Teens Into The Real World

From Learning To Earning: Transitioning Teens Into The Real World

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Every parent wants their child to succeed in life.  While the definition of ‘success’ may seem obvious to us as adults, for teens it may take on a different meaning. Just staying on par in their social circle may spell success for them. It is no wonder why some parents throw their hands up in the air in frustration wondering what they can do to make their teens ‘see the light’. The bottom line is that navigating the teenage years is as daunting for teens as it is for their parents. – Cathy Guilbard

Teens In Transition

The teenage years are typified by a myriad of physiological and emotional changes, which can be exacerbated by internal and external factors. It is at this critical time of development that many parents notice their teens pulling away from them and asserting their independence. Compounding these changes are decisions that need be made about academics and future careers. Gauging teen readiness to make these decisions and how to engage them in conversations that allow them to develop decision-making skills is no easy task. Knowing what lies ahead, and, being armed with a databank of life experiences, many parents see this juncture as the perfect opportunity to help their teens make the ‘right choice’. If only full and open communication between parents and teens was guaranteed, this would be a win for both sides.

Some teens already know, or have a sense of, what they intend to pursue as a career, but many find themselves floundering in a sea of indecisiveness. The influence of parents, teachers and others can seem overwhelming to teens uncertain about what course of study to undertake. The pressure to make the ‘right choice’ is often expressed by them as feeling stressed out, disillusioned, overwhelmed and confused.

While there is no magic formula, there are many ways of staying connected to your teen during these transitional years. The starting point is to keep the lines of communication open and flowing in both directions. Listening to what they are saying provides valuable insight into how ready they are to make life changing decisions and why.

What Teens Need To Succeed

We all know that success in life is about making good choices. Most likely your teen has heard this statement many times over. However, for many teens their cause and effect timeline is not long enough for the full impact of this statement to be appreciated. For this reason, many parents take a very active role in the career decisions facing their teens and, despite being well-intended, their involvement can sometimes be perceived as overbearing and intrusive.

A research paper from The University of California, Berkley (1996) assessed available resources for making career decisions and determined three essential components for guidance in career development:

  1. Self-Knowledge: The ability to focus on developing yourself was cited as the single most important determinant of success and failure in personal and professional development. So, for teens facing career choices, making decisions that come from within and reflect who they are, what they want to become and why, is paramount to ensuring their future success.
  1. Education & Occupational Exposure: To be provided with information and have had exposure to a range of career opportunities available is also essential. Schools usually provide career and job fairs as well as mentoring and internship programmes that provide both knowledge and experience.


  1. Career Planning/Guidance: Charting the course from high school to higher education or vocational training is a life skill usually introduced to teens in the latter years of high school. Career guidance professionals in the schools provide assistance and support needed to encourage teens to prepare a comprehensive plan to take them onwards after graduating from high school.

3 Key Indicators of Competency: 

Self Knowledge

  • Knowledge and importance of a positive self-concept.
  • Skills to interact positively with others.
  • Awareness of the importance of growth and change.

Educational and Occupational Exploration

  • Knowledge of the benefits of educational achievement to career opportunities.
  • Understanding the relationship between work and learning.
  • Skills to locate, understand, and use career information.
  • Knowledge of skills necessary to seek and obtain jobs.
  • Understanding how work relates to the needs and functions of the economy and society.

Career Planning

  • Skills to make decisions.
  • Knowledge of the interrelationship of life roles.
  • Knowledge of different occupations and changing male/female roles.
  • Understanding the process of the career planning.


Resources Available:

  • Career Guidance Counsellors use various assessment tools in one-on-one sessions to provide insights and awareness to students who are uncertain about which direction to take towards their future career.


  • Parental Guidance is a positive indicator of future success. Although communication may be challenging during the teen years, it is always encouraged. As teens develop their sense of independence and individuality, parents need to be able to listen and converse in a positive way and thereby gain insight as to who and what their teen is aspiring to become.
  • Teachers / Coaches / Mentors are also helpful resources in terms of providing support and guidance to teens making career decisions. Many teens feel comfortable talking to their teachers/ coaches/mentors and benefit from their experience and guidance. For some teens, it may be easier to have these conversations with adults who are not their parents.


  • Teen Coaching is another available resource that has been shown to yield positive results in terms of helping teens to get on the right career path. The one-on-one sessions are aimed at getting teens to focus on individual input needed to improve themselves so that their desired goals can be met. Teens are encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning and development. A teen coach can help them to understand what drives them towards success and help them focus on self-determination as a decision-making skill.











Catherine Guilbard is a Certified Coach and Momtrepreneur who is passionate about helping teens through career decisions and making plans for their future success. As CEO of the National Drug Council for over five years, she established research initiatives and advised on programmes for middle and high school students. She began focusing on teen coaching when her own son expressed anxiety around making career decisions upon entering high school. As a Teen Coach she uses specific coaching skills and techniques aimed at developing self-knowledge as a means of getting teens motivated and engaged in setting goals for the future. For more info: / A Head Ahead Ltd. / Tel: (345) 328 0882.


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