Using the “Three E’s” to Help Your Child Explore Employment

Every day, adults ask kids and young adults questions such as “what do you want to be when you grow up”? Or perhaps “after you graduate, what do you want to do with the rest of your life”? These challenging questions can produce understandable anxiety.   Many of them may not have the ‘tools in their toolbox’ to navigate the complexities of finding gainful employment that aligns with their skills and interests.



As parents, we want our children to be able to answer these questions with confidence.  But how do we go about this? It is important to let them know that they do not have to know the answer to this question and that their answers need not define them.  Simultaneously, as they develop, we want our children to develop the skills, interests, and abilities that will help them succeed in an ever-changing job market.

Consider if your child has had the 3 E’s: Education, Exposure, and Experience. Providing this easy-to-remember acronym, I hope to help you support your child to find happiness and satisfaction in the workplace.

Before we jump into the 3 E’s, I want to specify that “kids” refers primarily to children between 5-12. Early in life, kids recognize the significance of social groups and are influenced by their peers, translating into the need to gain approval by demonstrating appreciated and recognized skills. You can help kids realize how their play and interests tie to work as they experiment, learn, and grow.

When referring to young adults, I am referring to 12-18 years olds, who are typically searching for a sense of self and individuality and exploring future possibilities and forming opinions and identities, impacting their decisions about careers.

So, what are these three E’s?


  • What Should I Understand?
    • Career education provides young people with knowledge about the skills, requirements, and information about different occupations. It helps young people make informed choices about careers and have a clear understanding of developing a career.
  • How Do I Help My Child Gain Education?
    • Encourage and support the following example opportunities:
-Work to identify strengths and interests.

-Have conversations about your work and why you work.

-Help them see that doing their homework may help them live the life they want for the future.

-Support them in research career-planning information (i.e., Dept. of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook).

-Help them take a career assessment (i.e., Dept. of Labor’s O*Net Interest Profiler).

-Identify personal skills, interests, and abilities and relate them to current career choice (i.e., Meyers Briggs).

-Review realistic job previews (i.e., Consultant) with them.


  • What Should I Understand?
    • Career exposure introduces kids and young adults to career options they may not have considered. Early career exposure can determine future career success. It helps them make better-informed decisions about the educational and career paths they would like to pursue in the future.
  • How Do I Help My Child Gain Exposure?
    • Encourage and support the following example opportunities:
-Participate in or sponsor a career day event.

-Identify and connect your child with a mentor.

-Assist your child in identifying a volunteer opportunity relating to their interests.

-Support your son/daughter to learn and engage in informational interviews.

-Identify and connect your son/daughter with a mentor.

-Assist your son/daughter to identify a volunteer opportunity relating to their skills and interests.


  • What Should I Understand?
    • Any experience that a person gains while working in a specific field or occupation can help them learn about different working environments and increase their employability while developing skills valued in the workplace. Such skills can include problem-solving, collaboration with team members, and punctuality. They can build a network of contacts who may serve as a reference or help your son/daughter secure a job in the future.
  • How Do I Help My Child Gain Experience?
    • Encourage and support the following example opportunities:
-Participate in a volunteer gig.

-Work in your neighborhood completing a task(s).

-Become involved with the school and community work.


-Obtain a job(s) (Full time/part-time, seasonal, etc.).

-Join an internship or externship program.

-Participate in a volunteer gig.

-Become involved with projects in their school or community.

Here are tips to support your children on this new adventure:

  • Engage in Conversations About the Importance Of Work
    • Note that having a job or career can help a person feel good. Knowing you can do something well and earn money for your skills can be a great feeling.
    • Highlight the importance of developing new skills, learn new things, and create a record of employment.
    • For children, explain that if you have a job or a career, you can earn money. If you can make money, you can buy things you need, pay your bills, have a place to live, and do something you want to do.
    • Indicate that all experiences in life can provide insight into transferable skills and interests.
  • Listen to Your Child’s Failures And Successes
  • Help Your Child Learn About Himself or Herself
    • You can help them start thinking about those traits early and discuss how they will influence future career-related decisions.
    • Use fun and age-appropriate self-assessments (i.e., Meyers Briggs).
  • Be Supportive in Exploring Different Career Options
    • When your child expresses interest in any occupation, encourage him or her to research it to learn more. Click here to check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook as a resource.
    • Remember that pressuring a child into an identity can lead to anxiety and a feeling of conflict if they don’t want to do what you want them to do.
    • Encourage them to ask people about their jobs when they are engaged in work with which you both are unfamiliar and what training they need, and if they like what they do.
    • Access your professional network to find someone your son/daughter can talk to when s/he expresses interest in learning about a particular career.

As kids grow, they learn about their skills, interests, and opportunities to contribute to their community. Along this journey, no matter how you explore employment with your son or daughter, remember to be open, encouraging, and supportive while exploring the workforce’s many options.

Posted by Ricardo Andrews

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