Your teen’s life path can go in many different directions after high school graduation — community college, university, job training, careers, family. If you have a teenager, then life after graduation is probably something you talk about often. It’s important to talk about different options.
And here’s where math comes into the picture.
One of the most promising avenues your teen can consider — one with big potential and with jobs going begging now — is manufacturing. Our country is working mightily to keep up with the rest of the world in this field, and employers are looking for workers with just the right skills.
Increasingly, those right skills include math. Consider discussing the following 10 career tips with your teen:
1. Precision tools require precise workers. Those increasingly sophisticated and precise tools that make most of the products we buy daily — clothing, cars, electronic games, computers, sports equipment, TVs — require operators who can input precise measurements and information. If you want one of these highly skilled jobs with good pay and benefits, you need to know fractions, decimals, basic algebra and trigonometry, in addition to arithmetic.
2. Computerized machines still need humans to run them. Who do you think programs those sophisticated machines? People do, people who know math well.
3. Plan your future now. Make learning more math one of your goals. Challenge yourself to a math course that will make you stretch your brain, improve your problem-solving skills (nothing like algebra for that) or just review skills you’ve let get rusty.
4. Do some research. Interested in video games, race cars, fashion, constructing futuristic buildings, designing sleek computers, building eco-friendly homes or learning about ways to improve making just about anything? Organize a field trip with one of your teachers and arrange to visit a place or two where these things are made — they love to give tours — and ask about the skills workers need there.
5. Think about other subjects you’ll need too. Science, for instance, especially electronics, and some basic physics. Concentrate on the subjects that encourage problem solving and teamwork, like chemistry and engineering. Solving problems and working with others will be a major part of your working life. It never hurts to read more, either.
6. Establish the right attitudes and habits. Yes, you could coast through high school and have a good time doing it. Then what? Make a promise to yourself that you’re going to surround yourself with friends who will support and encourage each other, compete a little, study together and keep each other on the right track. Being part of the right team can make all the difference.
7. Clean up your act if necessary. It’s never too late to improve. If your grades haven’t made you proud in the past, make up your mind that this year things will be different. Tell your family and friends about your new goals and ask them for support. Then let your behavior prove to them that you’re serious. You may even motivate others.
8. Get ready for post-high school. Start investigating trade schools, community colleges, universities and job-training programs. Ask your guidance counselor for help — guidance counselors love doing this kind of thing. There are plenty of low-cost opportunities that will get you to where you want to be.
9. Find a mentor. Having someone whose opinions and values you respect is a great benefit. Maybe it’s an adult with the kind of job you’re interested in learning more about; someone who is willing to share his or her work experience, training, mistakes, career path and opinions with you; someone who can introduce you to other successful adults in related fields; someone who can help you refine or broaden your opportunities. All you have to do is ask. Most adults will be glad to lend a helping hand to a motivated teen.
10. Stay positive. Taking challenging courses, becoming more focused, improving habits and maybe even changing friends can be hard. Some days you’ll feel on top of the world. Other days you’ll want to chuck the whole thing. That’s why it’s important to have supportive people around you. But the most important person is you. Keep your aim high, your spirits up and your dreams close.
Help your children concentrate on these tips and they will be ready to look at manufacturing careers — welding, engineering, automotive mechanics and repair, computers, construction, carpentry, electrician, machinist, health care lab work, plumbing, surveying, jeweler — and so much more. What other career tips do you share with your teen?