Jumpstart your Summer

Happy Summer!!!  It’s June 1st and school is out for most students!  What do you have planned for your summer months?

While it’s great to have some fun down time to hang out with friends, the summer months also give teens a lot more free time then they usually have during the school year.  For some teens this extra time can lead to trouble (with the most teen wrecks happening during the summer months).   For others, this extra time may just mean a lot more time for video games or snapchat.

But summer is also a great time for teens to get a jumpstart on their college and career plans.   Listed below are a few great activities to help you make the most of your summer break.

  1. Get a summer job or volunteer in a field of interest. One of the best ways to see if a career possibility is a good fit is to spend some time working in that field, observing the daily work flow, and meeting people who are doing what you’re interested in.   So before you head off to the mall to fill out 50 applications for retail and fast food locations, consider looking for openings in a field you actually want to work in for a few years.  These summer jobs are also great resume builders and can lead to full-time positions through networking relationships.
  2. Take a personality assessment. If you aren’t sure where to start when it comes to career options I always recommend taking the Holland Assessment to review some career options that would fit your personality type. While there are many other useful personality assessments you can take I have found the Holland Assessment to be helpful due to it’s simplicity and the immediate career options to consider as results.  (Link here) 
  3. Research college options. Once you have decided on a career path you’d like to pursue you can start researching what colleges or additional training options would best prepare you for work in this field.  Campus visits can be a great way to get a feel for the college when you have your options narrowed down– but most of your initial research can be done online.  A few helpful websites:
  1. Work with a Career Coach. Career Coaches help students discover a career field that would be a good fit for their unique personality and also help students who are already educated in their chosen field prepare for a successful job search.   Typical coaching relationships can vary depending on the clients goals, but I typically recommend 3 meetings with my clients initially.   (See some FAQ’s on Career Coaching here.)

I hope these suggestions have given you some fun and productive ideas for your summer- enjoy the break from the daily routine of school and take advantage of your extra time to prepare yourself for your future.

 

Four Favorite….

Career & Life Planning Resources for 2017

I wanted to share a few of my favorite resources for the New Year on Life & Career Planning- I hope you find these helpful!

Image result for new year

Favorite Podcasts:

  1. Success Talks: Interviews with various successful people from multiple fields (featured in Success Magazie)
  2. Michael Hyatt: This is Your Life
  3. The Tony Robbins Podcast
  4. TED Radio Hour– Various speakers on multiple topics

Best Books on Life / College / Career Planning:  (most are available as ebooks and on Audible)

  1. Living Forward – Michael Hyatt & Daniel Harkavy
  2. What Color is your Parachute for Teens –  Carol Christen
  3. Teens Guide to College and Career Planning– Justin Muchnick
  4. The Art of Work- Jeff Goins

Helpful Websites for Career Planning:

  1.  Occupational Information Network:   www.onetonline.org
  2.  Career One Stop:    www.careeronestop.org
  3.  My Next Move:   www.mynextmove.org
  4.  Bureau of Labor Statistics:

My Newest Habits:

1.  Make small but consistent healthy choices. 

Often New Years is a time for dramatic resolutions that can quickly become overwhelming and lead to burnout.  If I had decided I should start running 5 miles a day I would quickly get discouraged and give up.  Instead I decided to make a few small changes that I can realistically stick with over time, including:

-Drink more water and less caffeine.  (It’s easy for me to drink coffee and sweet tea all day long- but that’s not the best way to stay hydrated and the excessive caffeine actually makes it harder for me to focus.)

-Do something physical for at least 10 minutes a day- even if it’s just a brisk walk.  (This one is not difficult now that I get to chase my very mobile 1 year old around most days- it’s not official exercise, but it wears me out!)

-Eat one more salad and one less fast food meal a week  (On work days I quickly default to the familiar cheeseburger and french fries for lunch- but all those calories just make me feel overly stuffed and lethargic by about 2:30.  I feel much more energetic with smaller portions and healthier options.)

These simple changes will have a positive impact on my health over time and are easy enough to commit to and stick with over time.

2.  Wake up 30 minutes earlier than I need to.

I’m using this time to pray, plan out my day, read, or spend some time planning for our future.  And it’s truly amazing the impact these few minutes alone have had on my mindset and productivity the rest of the day.  (My husband actually got me started on this when he started setting his alarm and getting up at 6am.  At first I was mildly annoyed to be woken up so much earlier than absolutely necessary- but when I decided to try getting up early too instead of laying there trying to squeeze in those last few minutes of sleep I suddenly had so much more free time in my day!  And where mornings used to be alot of frantic rushing around and stress, they’re now calmer, peaceful and actually pleasant- which is a nice start to the rest of the day.)

3.  Waste less time on TV, Facebook, etc.

 It’s so easy to grab my phone when I have a free minute, open Facebook and spend 30 minutes scrolling through other people’s lives.  Or to watch “just one more episode of whatever” on Netflix…6 or 7 times.   And while there’s nothing wrong with catching up with friends or enjoying a couple shows occasionally-  these activities have the potential to drain away a lot of my time with very little positive results to show for it.   I’m becoming more aware of how I’m choosing to invest my free time.

4.  Fill the void– Be productive with downtime; read, listen to podcasts, exercise or connect with someone.

We all have things we know would be beneficial for us but we “just don’t have time” for.  And while it may be difficult to find a whole extra uninterrupted hour in a day, we all have little pockets of time we can put to good use.   Five minutes to go for a quick walk outside, 10 minutes to read one chapter in a book or call a friend you haven’t talked with in a while.

We live in Houston so we spend a lot of time driving and in traffic- and I used to just flip constantly through several radio stations and get frustrated we weren’t moving any faster.   However lately I’ve been using my drive time to listen to podcasts and that gives me something to focus on and makes the drive time feel so much faster.  A friend of mine uses her drive time as prayer time and prays for herself, family and friends while driving.  How can you make better use of the little pockets of time we all have scattered throughout our day?

These are just a few of the resources and life changes I’ve found to be helpful recently and I hope they are useful for you too as you start off 2017!  I’d love to hear what positive changes you’re making in your life and what helps keep you motivated and focused on your New Year’s Goals!

 

Free Resources for Personality & Career Assessments

I wanted to share a few helpful and FREE resources for people interested in learning more about their personality type as it relates to their career choices.   There are so many different personality assessments you can take online but these use the Holland Code- which is my personal favorite as it has only 6 personality types and it relates your personality type to career options that could be a good fit for you.  So I hope these help and let me know if you have any questions!

 

http://www.mynextmove.org/explore/ip – 60 questions for your Holland Code results

http://www.mynextmove.org/  – excellent site for students researching careers

https://www.onetonline.org/  (Occupational Information Network by US Dept of Labor)

 

http://www.careeronestop.org/ExploreCareers/explore-careers.aspx – another good site for researching careers

 

http://www.truity.com/test/holland-code-career-test – 72 questions Holland test and information on careers and educational levels

 

Holland

Career Coaching FAQ’s:

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What is a Career Coach?

A career coach is someone who is trained to help others navigate through the career planning process successfully.

 

What kind of training did you receive?

To become a Certified Career Coach I went through a certification program with the Career Coach Institute which included trainings, personal study, a final exam and practice coaching sessions.  I also attend coach training events for continuing education credits needed for certification renewal.

 

What topics do you cover in Career Coaching?

Topics covered in Career Coaching sessions include:

-Life & career goals

-Career options for personality types (using the Holland Code)

-Skills & interests inventories

-College or training options

-Job market trends

-Gaining experience on the job

-Increasing marketability in the job search

-Resumes, LinkedIN, and interview preparation

 

Who is Career Coaching for?

I specialize in working with high school and college aged students who are making college and career related decisions.  I also work with adults who want to make a career change.

 

How does Career Coaching work?

Career Coaching is typically done one-on-one with a career coach and a client either in person or via phone or Skype.  Sessions are typically one hour with homework projects given between sessions.   I can also do group coaching sessions (usually less than 12 clients) or workshops on Career Planning for larger groups.

 

How do you charge for Career Coaching?

I offer two coaching packages, both include 4 coaching sessions are they are $500 each or both for $875.

  • The Discovery Package includes a personality assessment and covers skills and interests, goals, education and career options, and crafting a plan for the future.
  • The Action Package covers assistance crafting a resume, increasing marketability in a job search, and interview skills.
  • The Jumpstart Workshop is a 4 hour half-day planning session which can be tailored to best meet the individual’s clients needs and is $500.

Prices vary on group coaching and workshops, please e-mail for more information.

 

Why work with a Career Coach? 

Career Coaching can help shorten and clarify the college and career process.  This clarity can also save significant amounts of college funds as it helps reduce the amount of time students are in school.  A lot of students graduating high school aren’t sure what they want to do in their future and this often results in students changing majors multiple times in college, dropping out before they graduate or being unable to find a good job in their career field after they do graduate.  Better planning before college can help make this transition from high school to adulthood smoother and more successful.   (Click here to read some recent statistics on college students and career planning.)

 

How did you get started in Career Coaching?

I struggled greatly with figuring out what to do with my life after high school.  I had a ton of creative ideas that ranged from being an astronaut to a fashion designer to a zookeeper- but no real practical plans when it came to a stable career path.  My parents recommended becoming a nurse and since I didn’t have any better ideas that’s what I did.  But I never felt that nursing was a good fit for me and my first 2 years as an RN were proof of that.  I felt strongly during those 2 years that there had to be a better way to do life and I started researching career planning.  I discovered the field of career coaching and felt that this was a way I could help others avoid some of the stress I experienced in my career path.

 

What perspective do you coach from? 

My foundational belief with career coaching is that God created each of us with a unique personality and purpose and it is my goal to help clients discover their God given gifts and passion.  I strive to help my clients find the perfect career path for them- and to find a job they both love and can make a living doing.  I believe the best way to motivate students is to help them find their passion and purpose and set them on a path to making their dreams reality.

 

Testimonials:

“Jennifer sparked awesome student involvement and interaction in her Career Planning presentation today- she is friendly, engages with the students, and shares very well thought out information.  She covered every aspect of career planning and each topic was valuable and presented in a way that was easy for the students to relate to and understand. I recommend Jennifer’s Career Planning workshops for other high schools because it is important for students to begin this planning early so they have a goal in mind when planning for college and careers.”

–Ms. Beckert, High School Teacher FBISD

 

“I would like to thank you for the awesome presentation today at Marshall High School.   I really enjoyed your material and the delivery.  Your presentation kept the students engaged more than any other presenter that have spoken to them. The students enjoyed it and one of the students even made the comment ‘when is she going to come back?’  It has been a pleasure to work with you.”   

-Ms. Hicks, High School Teacher FBISD

 

“We enjoyed your visit and your message. The young people we deal with are amongst the most misguided and needy of the message. I think the presentation was insightful and most importantly let them know that a future is possible.”   

-Mr. Dobbs, Probation Officer, Juvenile Detention Center

 

“Career coaching has been very enjoyable and I am already benefiting from it.  It helped me plan out how to obtain my goals in small, do-able steps.”    

-James, High School Student

 

“Your workshop gave me a more solidified look at the immediate future and reinforced the importance of the decisions I make during these critical years.”  

-David, High School Senior

 

“This workshop gave me a head start on what to expect in life after high school.” 

-Cole, High School Senior

 

“Your presentation was funny and kept me interested the entire time; your personality is amazing.”  

-Jorge, High School Student

 

“I loved your presentation and it really motivated me!  Thank you so much!”

-Natalie, High School Student

 

“Your workshop really helped me organize my thoughts on my future.” 

-Briana, High School Student 

For more information on Career Coaching with Jennifer, please e-mail jennifer@beforethelaunch.com.

 

Recent Statistics on College & Career Planning

cgUnemployment rates as of March 2015:

High School Dropout: 8.6%

High school graduates with no college: 5.3%

Associate’s degree or some college: 4.8%

Bachelor’s degree or higher: 2.5%

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t04.htm

Approximately 44% of college graduates are unable to find a job in their chosen profession and take jobs in unrelated fields.  (This is often referred to as  underemployement.)

http://educationbythenumbers.org/content/underemployment-college-grads_1589/

Many college students change majors three to five times- extending the four year degree to closer to six years.

 http://www.collegeparents.org/members/resources/articles/when-your-college-student-changes-majors

http://business.time.com/2013/01/10/the-myth-of-the-4-year-college-degree/

The average college student graduates with about $29,000 of student loans.

http://money.cnn.com/2013/12/04/pf/college/student-loan-debt/

The national ratio of counselors to students in schools is 471:1.

http://nation.time.com/2013/12/03/the-high-school-guidance-counselor-shortage/

Career Coaching can help high school and college students prepare more efficiently for the college and career process than just letting them figure things out on their own.  For more information on Career Coaching with Jennifer please click here.

Detours

Sometimes life doesn’t work out exactly as we envision.  Sometimes there are bumps in the road in the road to success.  Sometimes mountains.  Sometimes quicksand.  Sometimes being a grown up isn’t as easy or as glamorous as we anticipated.

An unplanned pregnancy, a relationship ends, illnesses happen, jobs don’t work out.

So then what?  What do you do when you need to come up with a Plan B, or C, or D right now?

You have two options:

  1. Shut down / Get bitter

-Focus on the past, replay regrets – what should have been and what went wrong and make excuses for why things can’t get better.

  1. Keep going / Get stronger

-Focus on the future, keep moving, learn from the past and get better because of it.

The difference is your attitude, not the circumstances.  So when life gets messy and it’s not what you were planning for don’t just shut down.  Give yourself time to analyze the situation, reevaluate your goals and recalculate your directions- but keep moving.  Don’t get stuck.  Do the best you can with what you have to work with and remember you can’t control the rest of the world, but your response is up to you.

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10 Tips on Motivating Teens

As a Career Coach I’ve had the opportunity to work with students from many different backgrounds – from detention centers to honor society students.  And I’ve met many adults who work with students as well.  And I’ve noticed that sometimes working with teens can be a little stressful for adults.  (And sometimes more than a little…)

I think a big reason for this stress and frustration stems from teens wanting to be more independent – but not always knowing how to make the best decisions for their future – and as adults who care about them we want to help them be successful and protect them from some of the possible dangers “out there.”  But sometimes that protection makes teens frustrated because they don’t feel like they have any freedom to make their own decisions.

helicopter-momA mother of teens recently asked me what I thought about “helicopter moms,” a term used to describe parents that hover protectively over their teens often to the point of suffocation (or so the teen feels).  There have even been reports of some mothers going to interviews with their college graduates!  (Not usually the impression you’re aiming for with a potential boss.)

After giving both sides some thought I’ve come to the conclusion that there has to be a balance of protection and freedom when working with teens.  Protect them from true dangers that can have lasting effects on their future – but give them the opportunity to start being a little more independent each year.  And let them experience the consequences of the decisions they make, both good and not-so-good- because that’s often how we learn best.

Our goal with teens is for them to be safely independent as soon as possible.  And that usually comes with a bit of a learning curve and some mistakes along the way.  But as adults who love our kids and want them to be successful, it’s our job to walk through this process with them, moving slowly from being the authority figure, to a coach, to a guide, to a friend.

I’ve recently created a video on “10 Tips for Motivating Teens,” and you can check out the PDF version here!  Thanks for reading and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the balance of love & freedom with teens!

What I Learned in Jail

This week I had the opportunity to interview teenagers in our local juvenile detention center about their perspective on life.  It was a surprising few hours for me.  And I quickly realized that I am not up-to-date on the latest street slang- though the students were kind enough to explain some of their terminology.   Understanding the perspective of at-risk teens can help us know how to best tailor our message to them so that it will be well received.  Here are some of their honest thoughts (and some direct quotes) on these important topics:

How teens like to spend time: 

-“Chillin”

-Smoking weed

-Parties

-Kickbacks (smaller gatherings, usually at a friends house with a few close friends),

-Social media –favorites include Instagram, Twitter and Vine “but not Facebook because there’s too many parents and cops on Facebook”

Dreams for their future:

-“Cashing out” obtaining large piles of cash so they never have to work.

Me:  “The best way to make money is to get a job.”     Teen:  “No, that’s just the legal way.”

-Go to Harvard

-Play professional sports, especially football & basketball

-Be a rapper

-“Make my momma proud.”

-“Take care of my family-especially my son who will be born soon”

-Get a Maserati

-Join the military

-Be a Nurse, Physical Therapist, Pharmacist, Dental Hygienist, Welder, Mechanic, Truck Driver, Fire Fighter, Lawyer, Forensic Scientist

-“I don’t know.  I haven’t really thought about my goals for the future.”

-“I don’t think I’m going to make it to 30.”

Challenges:

-Getting a job   “I may try to get a job- but if I can’t then it’s back to the streets.”

-Peer pressure / gangs

-Drugs

-Getting rid of anger

Me:  “What are you angry about?”    Teen:  “Everything.”

Why they sometimes make decisions that can have negative consequences:

-Don’t care about the consequences

-Don’t think about the consequences

-For fun

-“I might not get caught”    Me:  “But you might.”    Teen: “Only the stupid ones get caught.”

-Stress relief

-Boredom

-“Live now, die later.”

-YOLO:  You Only Live Once

Adults:

-Some teens want to have “mentor or role model”

-“I don’t listen to most adults- but I’ll listen to a coach.”

-Some teens want to learn everything by personal experience.

-Some teens won’t listen if they see the adults as hypocritical or a bad example.  “My dad tells me not to do drugs, but he does drugs- so why should I listen to him?”

-Some teens are more open to listening to older people because they have more life experience.

Positive Influences in Teens Lives:

-Positive Adults / Role Models / Parents – “It helps to have both parents around.”

-Working out

-Having a job

-Going to church –   “I pray when I’m here, but when I get out I forget to pray, then I end up back here.  I’m going to try to pray more when I go home this time…”

On preparing for the future:

-“I don’t worry much about the future, just live one day at a time.”

-“Not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand, life is good today.”  -Lines from a Zac Brown song the boys group-sing when being moved from place to place.

-“I think I’m pretty ready for the future- I just gotta get outta here.”

My take away thoughts for adults working with at-risk teens:

  • Most teens report they learn best by personal experience and not lecture -when possible, allow them the freedom to make mistakes and experience the consequences of those mistakes
  • Most teens respond to adults who take a genuine interest in them and want to help them succeed- let them know you’re on their side and want to see them be successful.
  • At risk teens are very “now-oriented,” and tend to give little thought to the future – talking about how to prepare for the future gives them an idea of what to expect.
  • Many teens do not have an accurate perspective on reality or the cost of living -discussing budgets and expenses can help give them a better grasp of what to expect when they are independent.