Beginning in the fourth year of high school, most young people can recognize many of their own personality traits, abilities and core values, but you should continue to highlight their qualities and achievements and help them explore concrete experiences. To do this, many high schools offer activities such as “student for a day” in cégeps and vocational training centres, visits to various institutions, etc.

Internships – especially useful

An internship is an important tool for young people: a student interested in auto mechanics can spend half a day with your mechanic (if he agrees of course!) to find out if this trade really does interest him. Many professionals are open to this type of internship that encourages young people to explore, specifically in sectors experiencing manpower shortages. Do not hesitate to ask!

Many professionals or tradespeople are flattered by the attention paid to their occupation and will be pleased to share their expertise.

  • re-examine and identify his abilities, values and strongest occupational interests along with their requirements.
  • express his opinion about the lifestyle he envisages and the type of career he prefers.
  • list his good (and not-so good) schoolwork habits (subjects, activities, projects).
  • rank his preferences among school subjects.
  • identify his main employability skills that can help him secure a part-time or summer job.

Exploration of the education world is important in the guidance process. You can surf the internet with your child, visit vocational training centres or cégeps, encourage them to read literature about different vocational or college programs, etc.

At this stage of exploration, they should be able to:

  • define Secondary 4 course options available to them in their school and neighboring schools.
  • recognize vocational training programs in high school.
  • identify possible choices for cégep and the Secondary 5 prerequisites required for certain programs.
  • find various examples in the job market demonstrating the need for continuing education.

In Secondary 4 your child is a lot more familiar with the world of work, more aware of the place that employment takes in family life and can further identify occupations that interest him. This does not, however, mean that they are able to pronounce on a choice of career.

The abundance of occupations, fields of study and the difficulty to focus their interests can lead to career indecision.

How to help them explore the working world

  • Identify, in their immediate surroundings, the types of jobs they like and lifestyles they aspire to.
  • Obtain detailed educational and professional information on the occupations that they are starting to show more interest in.
  • Compare the social status of workers in different businesses or institutions (tradespeople, technicians, professionals).
  • Rank the occupations that he would eventually find interesting according to his personal criteria.
  • Put his skills and interests to the test in a workplace that interests him most (internship).
  • Have him practice his employability skills during workplace experiences, school vocational training workshops, and during business simulations or other exploratory activities.

It is now time for your teenager to make the connection between what he learns in school and the reality of the working world. These two worlds are closely connected, and it is especially important to understand for example, that if he likes science, then a career in the sciences should be explored.

Your child can learn to:

  • make connections between specific scientific domains (physics, chemistry, biology) and their application in various fields.
  • establish a relationship between their work habits and preparation for different careers.
  • connect different levels of worker training with their levels of responsibilities.
  • draw the link between school achievements and possible career choices (for example, if your child is more manually adept and prefers practice over theory, it would be good to explore vocational training programs).

With the fourth year of high school comes choices for Secondary 5. Your adolescent will have to decide between chemistry, physics, school-specific options (arts, sports, languages, etc.) and the choice of mathematics. These choices are important because they impact their post-secondary options. It is equally important to begin the guidance process to make the proper choices.

With the help of a guidance counsellor, an adolescent should be able to :

  • identify subjects or training programs for their current career choices.
  • prioritize their different considerations when making decisions regarding school or occupation.
  • specify the implications and consequences of various decisions concerning school and career.
  • develop an action plan to achieve their life goals.
  • determine their options for Secondary 5 with a view to vocational or general education in college.
  • specify a career and occupational preference if they have one.

Inspired by Madame Marcelle Gingras, teacher and retired guidance counsellor, Université de Sherbrooke.