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July 6, 2021

How to Help Your Teen Choose The Best Career

How to Help Your Teen Choose The Best Career

Want to help your teenagers choose the right career? This episode explores career testing to get your high school aged gets ready for the future.

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Are you trying to figure out what career is right for your teenager? This is the Parenting Psychology Podcast, and I’m psychotherapist Frank Sasso. At Parenting Psychology, we will discuss psychological and emotional challenges facing parents – and what to do about them.  From practical tips for raising our children – to our personal wellness as parents - we dive into a little bit of everything. The Parenting Psychology podcast is a show dedicated to helping parents become the best version of themselves.

In today’s episode, I thought it might be useful to share some resources out there for helping your kids pick a career. Do you remember what it was like to feel lost as a teen-ager and not sure what direction you were going after high school? If the answer is yes, then you know how anxious that made you feel! With so many voices out there telling our kids what they “should” do with their future’s, it’s easy to get lost in all the information.

Show Highlights

  • High School kids anxiety around choosing a career.
  • Learn about the Myers Briggs Type Indicator Assessment
  • Get practical information on free career tests for your kids
  • Help your kids choose a future that matches their personality and interests.

Hello everyone, and welcome to episode 8 of the parenting over 40 podcast – I’m your host, Frank Sasso, I’m a licensed clinical mental counselor, and board certified hypnotherapist out of Chicago, IL and I’ve been involved in wellness for over 15 years.

In addition to my work as a psychotherapist, I’m also a husband and proud father to a beautiful little girl. As a parent, I struggle with many of the challenges that you do. My goal is to help you with calm parenting styles.

You know, I started this podcast because there are many people out there who might not feel comfortable visiting with a mental health therapist, but might be curious enough to listen to a podcast on parenting topics. There are three groups of people that this show is focused on:

  1. Family members who struggle with anxiety, depression or just feeling stuck in life.
  2. Moms and Dads who face challenges in their personal relationships and would appreciate some guidance.
  3. The third group are parents who would naturally be attracted to a show focused on psychological phenomenon and overall wellness.

I purposefully try to stay away from using complicated clinical language on this show, so that everyone can gain a better understanding of the concepts discussed.

Anyway, back to the topic of our show – Helping Your Kids Pick a Career.

For a moment, allow yourself to imagine how good it would be to know that your kids could start thinking about a realistic career or trade while their still in high school. Wouldn’t that be amazing to help them take out all the guess work?

What if I told you that you can help your kid choose a future that will pay them decent money, and one that actually matches their personality? Stick around folks, lots to discuss in today’s episode.

Now, just a brief disclaimer before I begin. While yes, it’s true that I am a therapist, this podcast is not a replacement for mental health counseling.

Choosing The Right Career After High School

Folks, I have a secret to share -  I didn’t always want to work in the field of psychology. Earlier in my life, I thought I could maybe become a professional athlete like a lot of other kids. The problem was, I didn’t have a plan B and  more importantly, I had no idea which way to go when things didn’t work out with sports.  I was kind of like ship floating on the ocean without a sail – I just sort of drifted for a while until I finally settled upon the field of psychology.

How about you moms and dads? Are your kids feeling stuck about what they want to do after high school? Does just bringing up the subject of college to your kid end up in a screaming match?

Speaking of screaming matches, I can’t tell you how many teens I’ve worked with over the years who come to my psychotherapy practice because their parents put constant pressure on them to pick a major and apply for college. Now don’t get me wrong, these parent’s have good intentions, but their constant demands create such resistance in the parent child relationship that the kids just shut down and won’t talk.  And parents, I totally get it– of course you want your kids to go to college or learn a trade. Every parent, including myself wants their kid to have a bright future. The fact that you want your kid to be a success in their life is just a sign and a signal that you love them.

But here is where the problem that can develop: some of these kids develop something called pervasive indecisiveness – which is a fancy psychological term for saying the kid experiences anxiety and depression because they are so overwhelmed from having to make major life decisions.

And I haven’t even started to discuss all the teen-agers I’ve met who wonder if even going to college is  necessary anymore. That’s probably a topic for a whole other episode. For now all I can say is are plenty of NON FOR PROFIT Universities out there are very good at selling our kids degree programs that are completely worthless. I’m going to stay away from naming them here.

So, before your kids go out and take out thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans, let’s see if you can use a different approach that may – keyword may- help them to be able to work towards a future they will both enjoy and will financially sustain them.

Teens Experience Anxiety

According to a research survey published on Business Wire from 2018 titled: Student Confusion Selecting Majors Increases Higher Education Cost and Time to Earn Degree.

That makes sense right, if a kid is tinkering around with different classes they aren’t sure their interested in -it’s going to cost more money trying to figure things out.

Now according to this same survey, college students, especially from generation Z, struggle to choose a major because their not sure what career path to follow. Imagine all those kids out there who are just drifting thru their college classes, getting themselves into huge debt – because their pursuing degree programs they don’t feel good about.

Well as a parent – here’s what you can do to help. The idea here is to assist your kid in a realistic way of choosing a career that best matches their personality and interests. So the first thing you can do is ask your kid if they have taken a career assessment at school. Most kids I know will call it a career test.

Now there are many, many different types of career assessments out there. One of the most widely known is one you might be familiar with already – and that is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, also known as the MBTI - which was developed by Swiss Psychiatrist Carl Yung. Now, I I‘m not going to spend a lot of time on this one, except to say that Jungian psychology is absolutely fascinating. Mr. Carl Gust Gustav Jung – at least for me -was probably one of the most brilliant psychological figures of all time. He had a deep seeded belief that the unconscious mind deeply influences human behavior. While the great Sigmund Freud believed that a persons personality is made up from the ID, EGO and Super Ego, Jung believed in a similar concept, but a little different. For Jung, he theorized that there was a part of the mind he called the personal unconscious. Now this personal unconscious represses memories and contains temporary forgotten information.

Myers Briggs Type Indicator

So, you know Jung had to be a heavy hitter to go out there and disagree with Sigmund Freud.

I have to tell you that one of the most fascinating parts to Jung’s theory was what he called the collective unconscious. Without using a bunch of psychobabble, Jung theorized that all of human civilization had a layer to the mind called the collective unconscious. This is the idea that throughout the history of humans, we pass on mental patterns and memory traces from one generation to the next. Jung called these sort of ancestral memories archetypes and he believed we share them through literature art and even dreams.

Anyhow, I could probably go on forever, but you get the idea of how interesting this historic figure of psychology really is.

So Jung’s Myers Briggs Type Indicator works on the concept that people can fall into 2 different categories: Introverts or Extroverts. His theory also suggests that individuals can have dominant personality types such as intuition, thinking, feeling, judging or perceiving. So for example, you take the test and come up with a score of I NFJ. That would mean according to Jung that you are idealistic, organized, insightful, dependable, warm, and that you seek intellectual conversations.

While that’s all fascinating, and it really is – many high schools don’t use the Myers Briggs, simply because they lack the financial resources to administer the test. There are probably other reasons that I’m unaware of that schools aren’t using the Myers Briggs.

Having said that – here is the good news - there is a career assessment tool that your kid can start using right now. And best of all it’s totally free!

This simple test is based on famous psychologist John Holland’s Self Directed Search. Holland’s theory reasoned that a person’s best chosen work environment will match their preferences. In other words, people will want to work at a job that matches their interests.

John Holland RIASEC Career TEST

So this assessment I’m recommending for your kids is referred to as the Holland Code or the RIASEC Test. I’ll leave a link in the episode notes. This short assessment offered by the US Department of Labor and is a valuable resource to help your pick out a career path.

Alright, here is what your child can do.  Have your kid go online to the interest profiler, at My Next Move.ORG and answers a series of questions. Based on the results, your child is given a 3 letter summary code that indicates the dominant traits of their personality. Based on these unique codes, your kid can then be matched up with careers they will most likely be interested in.

And what’s great here and truly valuable - is they will be able to see for themselves what degree programs or trade skills they will need to obtain for the career they’ve chosen. The results will even tell the results will even tell them how much demand there is for the profession they’ve chosen, and even how much it pays.

Imagine, all the money and time they will save once they have the knowledge in their hands of what they need to do next!

You might be asking, what do the different codes mean? Ok well there are six major personality categories on the assessment. These are based on the acronym RIASEC or R I A S E C. Here they are:

R stands for Realistic: These are personalities that would prefer to work with tools or things, rather than people. Realistic personality types are well suited to work with their hands and may shy away from working with people. Let’s just say they are not the touchy feely types. People who fall into this category might find the following types of work appealing: Auto Mechanic, computer technician, computer software tester or maybe even a medical technician.

I stands for Investigative: Investigative personalities are strongly driven towards subjects like math and science. If your kid is the investigative type, they might not take pleasure working in sales, or being the leader of a team. Investigative types put a premium on fact based evidence. So basically investigative may be attracted a job like statistician, business analyst,  economist, or medical researcher.

A is for Artistic: Artistic personalities are kind of what you would expect. This would mean your kid naturally gravitates towards activities like music, art, writing or maybe even drama. Artistic personality types are highly creative and find fulfillment from being independent and original. You probably won’t find the artistic personality type feeling happy about working in an environment with repetitive tasks and lots of structure. That would be a big No for artistic types. According to the website Work Bloom, Artistic types prefer careers in performing arts, writing, journalism and even work environments that require creative thinking.

S stands for Social: Speaking of Social, this is one of the categories I fall into. Social personality types are considered warm, and genuinely enjoy working with other people. E stands for Enterprising: Ok, so enterprising personality types really enjoy working with other people. On Zip Recruiter, they say this personality type excels at careers in sales, advertising, marketing and public relations. As you can see enterprising personality types really seem to draw energy from being creative and communicating with others.

C – Stands for Conventional and is the final category of John Holland’s personality types. Conventional personality types prefer highly structured work environments. According to the Self Directed Search Website, Conventional Types like to work with numbers. They are described as practical, efficient, orderly and persistent. You may or may not be surprised to know that conventional personality types often describe themselves as type A personalities. Here are some examples of jobs that a conventional personality type might gravitate towards: Bankers, accounting, jobs that require computing numbers, and not so surprisingly, lawyers. The keyword here for this group is structure. These people prefer careers that have structure.

I took the test years ago and I came up with the score SEI, which matched very well with my personality. The results suggested I work in the field of community health or be some kind of educator. That’s pretty amazing given my chosen career falls closely with the results of the assessment.


Okay, so there you have a better understanding of how this crucial assessment works But what does your kid do after they get their results. Well moms and dads, I would highly recommend they print out the results and review them with their school guidance counselor. The school will be able to help them get on track with the future they’ve chosen.

Just remember that the three personality traits or codes – are combined in the results to provide a full spectrum of possible careers.

Well, we covered a lot in today’s episode, wouldn’t you say? We talked about some of the real challenges that teenagers face these days when trying to settle on choosing a career after high school. We also looking into the anxiety and stress college aged students cope with, just trying to finish a degree program. And if that wasn’t enough, we reviewed an online tool that has the potential of helping your kid save a ton of time and money, by choosing a career path that best matches their individual interests.

I just want to say thank you to everyone for listening in today. I know you all live busy lives and it’s not always easy to find time to listen to a podcast. I don’t know if you will hit the follow button now, or later on, but I appreciate it if you do.

I guess that that the more people that follow this show – the better it shows up in the search results for these types of podcasts.

And hey everyone, there are several different ways you can reach me. On Instagram, just go to the parenting psychology podcast and If you use Facebook, you can find me with the same search term, parenting psychology podcast. Make sure to click the like button.

Finally, I just want to say thank you to everyone who has been leaving encouraging reviews. The truth is I do this show all on my own. That’s right, I’m a one man podcast and when I see your feedback, it just inspires me to want to create more shows that hopefully help people. I really appreciate you being here today. Help your kids get ready for the future. Remember, you can help them take the guess work out of choosing a career.

Be good to yourselves. I’m psychotherapist Frank Sasso, and this has been another episode of the Anxiety Therapist Podcast.