Working wise: Teen career coaching

Dear Working Wise: It’s time to start applying to post-secondary schools and my son still isn’t sure what he wants to study. How can I encourage him to find a path and follow it? Signed, Concerned

Dear Concerned: The huge variety of career options, combined with unfamiliarity with the workplace and the weight of choosing the right career, can be overwhelming for some.

Fortunately, there are a number of resources available to help young Albertans explore career opportunities and pursue success in the workplace.

Start your son’s journey off right with these six steps.

Step 1—Self-discovery is the foundation of solid career planning. Getting to know yourself can be tricky, though. The alis web site offers a free self-directed career-planning tool called CAREERinsite, which he may find helpful. Or, he may prefer to use the This Is Your Life workbook, which is available in the publications section of the ALIS web site.

Step 2—Explore careers that fit your list of wants and interests. This may be just the thing to get you excited about post-secondary education. The OCCinfo section of the ALIS web site houses a wealth of information on career options including detailed profiles of more than 500 occupations, including typical wages, duties, work environments, and educational requirements.

Step 3—Narrow down your choices. Try interviewing people who work in the careers that interest you. Informational interviews can give you a real-world view of the job plus they might open up other exciting opportunities. Job-shadowing, volunteering, and part-time jobs are fantastic ways for students to pick up valuable work experience and try out careers before they spend years in post-secondary. You should also factor in what the future demand is likely to be for your target career by checking out Alberta’s Occupational Demand and Supply Outlook at

Step 4—Choose a program and then a school. The EdInfo section of the ALIS website is a searchable database of nearly 2,800 different education programs available in Alberta.

Step 5—Apply. The ApplyAlberta website has made it easier for students to apply to one or more post-secondary institutions, authorize transcript transfers, and avoid having to fill out the same information over and over. Check out the ApplyAlberta web site at

Step 6—Alis offers a number of articles on paying for your education. Your son can also learn about scholarships, bursaries and student loans, and apply for loans, on the Student Aid Alberta website

Finally, if you would like any more tips to help you work with your son, check out the Career Coaching Your Teens: A Guide for Parents publication on the alis website.

Good luck to you both.

Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at Charles Strachey is a manager with Alberta Community and Social Services. This column is provided for general information.

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