“What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s a tough question for teens. Some of us are still asking ourselves the same question as adults. Still, there are important conversations to have with our high school students. Here are eight fun question to get kids thinking and talking about what they want in a college and in a career. Get the conversation going, then share the National College & Career Pathways Survey with your students to take their thinking even deeper.
1. If you had to choose, would you rather have a job that you love or a job pays a high salary?
This is a good one for listing pros and cons. Sure, having money is important. After all, we have to pay our bills. But, as an adult your spend many hours of your day working, and happiness and satisfaction matter too.
2. Would you rather have a job where you do most of your work on your own or as part of a team?
This is a fun one because up until this point, teens don’t have a lot of say in the matter. They have to go to school, and they spend a lot of their day with other people. Ask them to imagine what they would do if they were working alone. Would they be more motivated and get more accomplished? Why or why not? Do they find they do their best thinking on their own or when they work with others?
3. Would you rather work for a company or work for yourself?
Between remote work, the gig economy and opening your own business, there are a lot of ways that adults can work for ourselves. At the same time, there is a lot to be said for a stable paycheck and being part of a dynamic organization. Ask: What qualities are needed to be your own boss? What are the upsides and the downsides?
4. Would you rather have a job with lots of perks or a job where you know you are making a difference?
This is a good one. Explain that they won’t necessarily have to choose between perks like travel or a company car and working for an organization with a strong mission that benefits society. Asking a question like this helps teens figure out what they value. They may not realize it now, but when your values and your work aren’t aligned, you might be in the wrong job.
6. Would you rather have a job where you do many different things or a job where you can count on consistency?
This one gets teens thinking about what their day-to-day might look like depending on the work they do. Would they rather multi-task and work on a lot of different things at the same time or does the idea of competing deadlines stress them out?
7. Would you rather have a job where you work with words or a job where you work with numbers?
For some students, spreadsheets, calculators and problem solving will sound incredibly satisfying. Others may imagine a career where they write, create and work with images. Talk we would all make loads of money and feel great about our work. This question really comes down to, can we have it all? And if we can, what types of jobs fit the bill?
8. Would you rather have a job that is physically active or one where you do most of your work on a computer?
I know my answer! If the idea sitting at a computer is enough to make a teen feel stir crazy, then they may be more interested in a career where they about jobs that are more active like teaching and working in healthcare.
Keep the conversation going
Want to dig deeper? Share this year’s survey from The Student Research Foundation. They study how students are thinking about, and preparing for, their futures. Once they’ve gathered all the data, they’ll share the trends they’re seeing, which you can use to jumpstart more conversations to get teens thinking about their future.