I hear this complain from parents of teens all the time. Yet, I think that the truth is not so much that teenagers are not interested in anything as the fact that they don’t know how to connect that in which they are interested with a possible career field.
The big challenge for parents is first to observe their kids behaviors to identify talents and interests. For example: Is the child detail oriented? Does he/she enjoy doing research? (Maybe she could look into lab work or research careers in various fields.) Does he/she prefer outdoor activities? (Maybe he needs to explore the building industry, or tourist industry.) Does he/she spend hours preparing parties and get togethers with their friends? (Look into event planning or public relations.) Does he/she love to play video games? (He/she could explore graphic design.)
Once you have identified an inclination (or several), you can help them research all the possible careers within a certain field. For instance, I met a senior high school student on the plane a few weeks ago, and when I asked him “What would you like to study?”, he said: “I’m only interested in sports and in working out. My mom says I should be a gym teacher. And I think maybe I will because that’s an easy job.” After I told him that doing an easy job could lead to boredom and frustration, I explained a few other options: “You could be a TV sports producer, a sports writer for a newspaper or magazine, you can work for a company that manufactures sporting goods, you can be a coach, or an athlete, you can work at a company that sells sports memorabilia or at one that organizes sports events, you can even be a sports doctor.”
As you see, there are so many opportunities within one field, that the idea is to open teenagers’ eyes to what is out there.To get help, I suggest that you visit your local library and get a hold of the Occupational Outlook Handbook, you can also find it online: www.bls.gov/oco. It is a directory published by the federal government which lists all the occupations in the country with the education requirements, the description of the job, the income you can expect and the projected growth of that position in the future. You may also encourage your kids to try some of the interest inventory software programs that are available at high schools across the country: www.bridges.com is one of them. So if you can, find people who are work in the field in which your child shows interest and see if they can spend some time with him/her talking and taking them to work to continue making the connection with the real world. Helping your kids make this connection is the best way to encourage them to continue studying.