(The following is a guest post from Lolita Allgyer, Marketing Associate and advisor at Praxis.)
8 Software Tools Teens Can Master Today
Getting a job looks pretty complicated when you’re young. That world is far away, right? That comes after you graduate college and are ready to take on the world, correct?
Not really. In fact, today it’s never been easier to gain expertise in the areas that all businesses are eager to build out. Innovation has made it possible for young people like you to break into some of the coolest careers available! One of the best ways to set yourself apart today is to learn software tools that are common to many businesses. Here are just a few examples:
If your résumé says “detail-oriented” this should be on your list. Even if it’s not, mastering Google’s tools will give you experience quickly in the art of organizing and systematizing data. Get your Google Suite certification here.
Ideas for documenting your knowledge:
- Write a blog series showing the little tricks most people don’t know.
- Make a tutorial series outlining the basic concepts of each part of Google Suite.
- Create a short webinar geared toward people who quickly want to navigate Google’s products.
- Write a Medium article detailing how you mastered Google Suite.
This is a must if you want any kind of analytical role. Without spreadsheets you’ll be left handicapped! Learn Excel and learn it well. Even for those who hate numbers and want nothing to do with data, mastering excel will give you an edge in the digital world, where many people aren’t organized. You can get many different levels of Excel certification here!
Ideas for documenting your knowledge:
- Make a Youtube tutorial series (like this one created by a Praxis participant)
- Create spreadsheets with data from your favorite sports team, and write an analysis of your findings
- Find a small business you love and help them build a simple CRM
- Start tracking some of your routines and write an article breaking down what works and what doesn’t
Salesforce is today’s top CRM platform. If you’re considering a marketing or sales role, learning how to navigate a CRM is essential. Even if the companies you end up working for don’t use Salesforce, your basic knowledge of a CRM will be valuable for understanding the way sales and marketing funnels work! You can get your Salesforce Administrator Certification here.
Ideas for documenting your knowledge:
- Build a basic CRM for a small business near you.
- Create minute-long videos about your tips for learning Salesforce and post them to your social media.
- Create a short podcast series where you teach Salesforce for those who have no clue where to start.
- Coach someone through the process of learning the program!
Email is still the biggest way businesses communicate with each other. It’s crucial to learn an email management software, especially for anyone who is interested in marketing or customer service! Mailchimp is one of the more common platforms. (Hubspot would be another example of a tool that fits in this category.) Chimp Essentials is a great course for learning Mailchimp! Check it out here.
Ideas for documenting your knowledge:
- Build out an email funnel for a company you’d like to get hired at. Make sure your copy is strong and that you have the HTML files on standby so they can easily access them!
- Create a simple mailing list of your own. Play around with signup forms, open and clickthrough rates, and email copy.
- Teach a couple of small businesses near you how to use the platform for their companies!
- Run a webinar where you teach the tricks you learned while studying Mailchimp
It’s an obvious for someone who wants to go into marketing. But I think it’s equally as valuable for salespeople and customer service associates to know what goes into running an ad! Facebook’s certifications can be found here.
Ideas for documenting your knowledge:
- Build a small Shopify store and run ads to get people to buy your products
- Find an entrepreneur who has a small marketing budget and offer to run ads for them.
- Write a daily blog post about what you’ve learned in Facebook Ads world.
- Put together a Tweet thread that summarizes what you’ve learned.
Want to start your own business? Interested in sales or marketing? Then master Google Analytics! You’ll be empowered if you know what the data means and how to act on it! Access Google’s Analytics Academy here.
Ideas for documenting your knowledge:
- Plug in your personal website and write an analysis of what you learned and what you can do to optimize the site.
- Make screenshare videos of Google Analytics functions that are helpful to you and upload them to Youtube.
- Write a simple E-book on Google Analytics and publish it.
- Find marketing groups on Facebook and write up some blog posts on the topic to share with them.
(Need more great ideas for your teens? Check out our other career planning posts.)
Video conferencing is a big deal in today’s world. If you’re in customer service, sales, or any other role where you talk to people often, it’s good to have mastered the ins and outs of a service like Zoom. Mastering this tool also means being able to walk other people through minor tech issues with the program, so make sure you can communicate what you’ve learned effectively! Zoom has some pretty cool live training for each of its different functions. Check it out here!
Ideas for documenting your knowledge:
- Create a tutorial teaching newbies how to run a webinar via Zoom.
- Write a series of blog posts about creative ways to use the platform for business.
- Record a live training session where you’re walking someone through the basics of Zoom.
- Go on Quora and search for people’s questions about Zoom. Now that you’re an expert, you can answer them!
Want to manage a team someday? Thinking of starting a business? Then it’s time you learn to master your workflow! Trello is one of the best tools to plug in no matter what your job description is. There’s a pretty cool Trello course here.
Ideas for documenting your knowledge:
- Invite your friends to Trello and plan a couple of events on the platform.
- Try managing a project you’re completing solely through Trello. Write a Medium article about what you learned.
- Create an Instagram or Facebook story showing people how you use Trello!
- Create a time management course and showcase how Trello can help time management.
Final ideas on software tools teens can master –
- You can host all these tools and your other skills on a free Crash profile. Using the Crash platform, you’ll be able to show your work in a beautiful visual format and create personalized pitches to companies you want to work for. Take the fun Crash career quiz to get started!
- Remember to build skills in as many areas as possible. If you’re in sales, that’s great. Lots of people are in sales. But if killing a sales role AND you have a bunch of marketing tools in your back pocket, you’ll be able to leverage many more opportunities! In today’s world of opportunities, it pays to have a diverse portfolio!
- Documentation is the most important part! You can master all these tools, but if no one else knows what you’ve accomplished, it’s not going to be nearly as valuable to you in the long run. Be open about your learning process, and create value for others with the skills you’re building!
Ready to take on the world of software? Let’s do it!
Loved this? Consider applying to Praxis. We’ll help you find and build your skills, then put them to work in a startup apprenticeship. You’ll get much more coaching like this, access to a community of entrepreneurial young people like you, and a portfolio of work that will speak for you wherever you go.
Lolita Allgyer is a homeschool grad who loves education. She is a Marketing Associate and advisor at Praxis, where she works with other young people to help them build careers they love through apprenticeships. She originally published this piece here on the Praxis blog. In her spare time she is learning as much about the world as possible. Her latest interests are French and the ukulele. Interested in an apprenticeship or just want to chat about this idea? She would love to hear your thoughts! Her email is lolita(at)discoverpraxis(dot)com.
(The following is a guest post from Lolita, a content strategist at Praxis.)
You’re probably not thinking about your career seriously yet. You’re not alone.
Many teens push professional goals aside and just focus on getting through high school. Then college time hits and they’re left with just focusing on getting through college. After that? You guessed it. They just get through work, left wondering what they missed in high school and college.
Your professional life doesn’t have to be boring and life-sucking. In fact, it should be fun.
Want to accelerate your career? Start today to set yourself apart.
The coolest thing about these ideas is they don’t change depending on where you’re going to college or what your major is. They don’t change if you’re wanting to take a gap year or skip college, either.
I’ve linked these ideas to lots of outside resources so you can do some more research and follow the ideas wherever they lead you (because it’s no fun to follow anyone’s advice verbatim!)
- Teach yourself an instrument. (Don’t get a teacher. Learn it yourself.)
- Build a website. No one else has a personal website at your age! Document your high school experience and your projects there!
- Teach someone else a skill. What better way to pass on what you know?
- Learn a skill set that is uncommon today. Study something like blacksmithing or knitting.
- Blog every day for a month. See if it won’t change your writing skills.
- Do anything every day for a month. You’d be surprised at the skills you build by sticking to something for thirty days.
- Set your goals in 30-day segments. Want to learn something new? Build a 30-day project around that goal.
- Read x amount every single day. Instead of setting a huge goal of reading a certain amount of books, start small. Read 30 pages every day, or 20, or 10: whatever you feel you can handle. 20 pages per day is 140 pages per week. That’s a small book’s amount! Besides, once you get started reading, you’re more likely to keep going.
- Complete a short course that’s relevant to your career interests. Places like Udemy have great courses that can help you expand your mind and build new skills!
- Go to conferences. Meet up with other people that think like you. Challenge your mind to think outside the box. Build your network young!
- Volunteer. There are hundreds of ways you can give back to your community and invest in yourself at the same time!
- Get a part-time job. Nothing will give you better experience than working in the market and making money for it.
- Find a mentor. Do you have big goals or ideas? Find someone ahead of you in those goals and learn from them. Better yet, do some free work for them and show them how much their advice matters to you.
- Start a podcast. Want to share your ideas with the world? It’s not hard to get started podcasting! You’ll build public speaking and content creation skills to boot.
- Learn how to email well. This is a skill you’ll need in your career. Learn it now.
- Use social media to your advantage. It doesn’t take long to establish yourself as an expert in the things you’re interested in!
- Read Breaking Smart. This series of essays will change the way you think about technology and its future.
- Dive into things as soon as they interest you. When those big questions hit you, take advantage of them. Research until you are tired of the subject. Write a paper on what you learned.
- Ask for recommendations. Some of the best books I have read were recommended to me by colleagues and peers. Same goes for videos, podcasts, and many other forms of content.
- Get good at learning things from Google. In today’s world, the ability to quickly and seamlessly learn something new is an advantage. Cultivate this while you’re young!
- Learn something new every day. Above all, make the commitment to never stop growing! Don’t fall into the rut of checking boxes. Take control of your learning experience today!
Want more ideas on how to prepare your homeschooler for their future career? Check out some of True North Homeschool Academy’sother posts on career readiness today!
- Career Exploration for Homeschool Students
- Teaching Soft Skills & Career Readiness
- Planning a Homeschool College & Career Fair
- Planning for the Future By Building Integrity
- Why Use Homeschool Academic Advising?
- High School Testing for Homeschoolers
Hey, I’m Lolita, content strategist at Praxis and lifelong learner. I was homeschooled for most of my high school experience; I spent a lot of that time running a small business raising dogs. I’m a guinea pig of all the ideas I mentioned above. You can follow me on Quora, where I dive into writing answers for fun. Check out my Instagram, where I’ve challenged myself to do things like a streak of daily polaroids. I tweet sometimes here, and post about my work on Facebook here. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and I’m always excited to talk about education, career success, and big ideas!
(The following is a guest post from Sara Porras.)
If you’ve homeschooled for any length of time, you’ve heard the question, “But, what about high school?” or “How will they ever get into college?” They don’t understand that you don’t really teach high school, but rather you become their guidance counselor. You choose or help your students, select curriculum, books to read, or even help them find co-op classes or a few online live courses where they learn subjects like Algebra, Latin, or history from a more learned teacher.
When starting my research on homeschooling high school, everyone’s advice seemed to have to do with getting the students into college. Teens take courses to prepare themselves for the college entrance exams, the ACT and the SAT, they volunteer in the community, participate in sports, and they might even earn a few college credits all to appease those college admission counselors. I started to wonder how hard it could be to “get in?” And although I’m in no hurry to rush them off into a college classroom and or onto a college campus, couldn’t they just start by taking some classes while in high school? What about college-level exams?
The first time I learned about CLEP exams, College Level Examination Program, my understanding was that they were a great way to prove your student had taken courses with academic rigor and that they had mastery of the material they had studied. Honestly, I didn’t know if my bright, but mostly average kids could pass a college-level exam. I had also heard horror stories of kids earning multiple college credits from one source or another, later to learn their student’s college of choice would never accept the credits. I was skeptical.
CLEP Exams can save time and money!
My research quickly led me to some astonishing information. While watching a wonderful webinar by Becky Muldrow of Dual Credit at Home, I learned that not only are homeschool high school students passing these exams and earning college credit, they are also earning associate degrees, and some are earning four year Bachelor degrees.
They are doing it for a small fraction of the cost of attending a brick and mortar school. There are accredited colleges that accept many college credits via college equivalency exams, dual credit exams, and more! Consider Liberty University, which accepts 75% of 120 credits needed for most bachelor’s degree as transfer credits. Three colleges, known as “The Big Three,” accept almost all credits via transfer. Charter Oak State College, a regionally accredited online college, accepts 114 transfer credits. They offer Bachelor degrees that, if carefully planned, can be obtained for less than $6,000! Our college funds are currently pretty small. However, if we can combine college and high school at the same time, I believe they can finish their undergraduate degree debt-free.
Planning is Key
When planning to do college and high school simultaneously, it’s important to plan well. You want to make sure your student meets at least your state’s homeschool high school requirements if any. You also need to know the transfer policies at the college your student plans to complete their studies with. Most of the general education or lower-level classes needed for a Bachelor degree are the same subject high school students study. Your student will study subjects at a high school level, add in some extra study and then take and pass a 90-120 minute college-level exam which helps them bank college credit and you can issue them high school credit for their time and effort while studying to learn the material.
Our CLEP Exam Journey Begins
Not one to enjoy wasting time or money and enjoying a good challenge, I plunged in with this journey last fall, my twins’ Freshman year of high school. I recommend starting with a subject your student enjoys as your first exam. For our boys, it was US History, and I had already planned to have them study this subject. They began high school history, Omnibus III from Veritas Press in the fall. They did extra studying using Quizlet’s free games, and online flashcards with Speedyprep (HSLDA offers members a discount for Speedyprep.) By February, they were ready to take the plunge and just see how the testing would go with CLEP US History I.
Our First Test!
The staff was quiet and calm when we arrived, and all eyes were on us as they noticed the ages of our kids. They asked if we knew these were college-level exams and there was no guarantee of passing. We paid the $25 proctor fee, per test; fees vary among testing centers. The boys were sent into the testing room and out of my line of sight.
I waited in the lobby for the first hour of the 90-minute exam and returned to wait for the rest of the time in the small testing office just outside the exam room. The receptionist asked where the boys went to school and how old they were. She said quietly, “Oh, I see. Well, a passing score is 50, for most colleges, and we typically see scores just under that or slightly over. Occasionally, someone studies hard and manages a score in the 60’s.”
I told her that I honestly, just wanted them to pass. These exams are pass or fail, and at most schools, will not earn a grade. Ten minutes later, our son Luke emerged from the exam room with a large smile on his face. The receptionist took his printed score off the printer and said, “Nice job, young man!” as she mouthed the words “Seventy-one!” to her co-workers. Two other staff members came out from behind their cubicles to congratulate them. They also asked about homeschooling and when we planned to return for the next test! In the meantime, our other son completed his test with a respectable 68! We were elated.
Banking College Credits
Since then, they have banked 12 college credits by passing the Civil War and Reconstruction DSST, which is another college exam worth a 400 level college history course at most schools that accept CLEP, the CLEP American Government, and CLEP US History II. They could also take CLEP American History, which we plan to take next year, which will earn 3-6 credits depending on the transfer school.
Day to day while preparing for an exam and doing high school? We are currently working on studying a few high school classes, like Algebra II and Spanish, plus one exam at a time. On an average day during this past spring, they would spend an hour doing their high school level history curriculum, thirty minutes practicing online flashcards with SpeedyPrep or Instantcert, around 45 minutes watching videos reviewing the material with Study.com, and around 15 minutes doing the review questions from the free membership with Modern States.
After completing the courses with Modern States, they offer a free voucher to pay for the $89 CLEP exam and will even reimburse the proctor fee. They offer this to the first 10,000 students to apply each year.) After getting through the Study.com videos, about three weeks per exam, they would spend a week doing practice tests from either Peterson’s or REA and reviewing any areas they were weak in and then they took the exam. The practice exams were equal to or harder than the actual exam. It is a lot of work. Some subjects will require more time for us. But their success has motivated us to press forward.
Planning for Success
Our son, Luke, has zeroed in on a Bachelor degree in Government with a concentration in Policy and Politics from Liberty University Online. They accept up to 90 credits of the 120 needed for a degree to be transfer credits. Because several CLEP exams are worth 6 credits and some language exams are worth up to 12 credits, I believe they can finish all of their general education credits within the next year. We won’t have Luke actually apply to Liberty until he has earned around 80 credits including all of his general education credits which he will earn through these examinations.
During high school, he also plans to volunteer or intern for a non-profit lobbying group which defends school choice, life, and the freedom of religion. Our son Grant is working on his general education requirements and considering all his options including aviation, biology, or cartography. They are working hard toward their goals to complete high school along with a degree at the same time or shortly after and are already eager to work in an area of their interests to make a difference. We’re enjoying the ride.
(Are you interested in CLEP courses for your high school student? Check out our CLEP Prep Course offerings at True North Homeschool Academy.)
Sara Porras is married to her active-duty military sweetheart, has been homeschooling their three boys since 2011, she enjoys portrait photography, prepping schoolwork plans and tutors online part-time.
To begin your homework on this journey, I recommend checking out Academic Advising and Orienteering at True North Homeschool Academy, Becky Muldrow’s Dual Credit At Home, Homeschooling for College Credit, and Free-Clep-Prep.
Why do you need homeschool academic advising?
As homeschooling parents, we are called upon to choose curriculum, teach the kids, keep track of credits and graduation requirements and guide our kids to a successful launch. We are the school board, administration, academic advisor and teacher, all rolled into one.
It can be difficult to do all of that on one’s own. I’ve heard several times on homeschooling forums and message boards who state that their parents didn’t help them navigate college or career and they came out just fine. And while I do believe that resiliency and grit are often overlooked and possibly under-expected, I caution parents against leaving their kids to figure it out on their own for two compelling reasons.
Time and Money
The average student in American is graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in 6 years instead of 4 with $37,000 in debt. Couple that with the fact that only about half of all students who enter college complete it and you could have a very expensive recipe for disaster.
Hacking High School for Future Success
The savvy homeschooler will view homeschooling high school as the opportunity for two things:
- Time to explore new opportunities and options
- Time to prepare for a successful launch
When I am putting together our “school” for each school year I am thinking about academics. I am also thinking about extra-curricular, camps, internships, sports, clubs and other possibilities. I am thinking about how my kids are developing and growing in unique areas (developing their “otherliness”), how to develop their professionalism in specific areas of interest, what kind of personality skills or traits that they need shoring up on, or natural areas of ability that can be further developed.
(Need more great career advice for your homeschool student? Check out all our other great career readiness posts!)
Why hire someone when you can DIY Homeschool Academic Advising?
So, what does this have to do with Homeschool Academic Advising? Many, if not most, homeschooling parents short change the high school years. They under-credit what they have done, don’t know where to invest time and energy based on students interests or callings because they are worried about what a transcript “should” look like. They tend to forget to think about things like camps, awards, sports, roles, responsibilities, and community service.
That’s where a seasoned Academic Advisor is helpful.
I see the credits you overlook because it’s your normal. For example, I recently worked with a high school student who basically flunked most of last year’s courses. After digging a bit deeper I discovered that he had extensive camping and fishing experience – like he provides fresh fish each year for more than one family; has hundreds of hours of Community Service (mowing and plowing his Grandmas and neighbors driveways and walks) works full time laying fiber optic cable (because he has such an amazing work ethic and is a responsible worker), and has re-built a diesel engine for the truck he bought with cash that he’d earned watching YouTube videos.
Along with identifying a processing disorder and getting him the academic help he needed, I was able to create a transcript for him that reflected the hard working, high PIQ (Performance IQ), kind and generous young man he was. Additionally, we were able to lay out a doable plan that will get him the professional certification he needs in life to earn the kind of money he should, given his abilities, despite academic struggles.
Similarly, I worked with a family earlier this year who has hopes of graduating from college while still in their teens. This student has the intellectual capability of doing just that but he is also very interested in going into an art field, doing creative, free-lance work. His Personalized Learning Plan included CLEP and Dual Enrollment classes. These classes were coupled along with developing an online presence, going to professional conferences, developing his artistic abilities, and going to graduate school in a location that would allow him to create the best connections possible.
Story Telling and the Art of High School & Career Counseling
Here’s the deal. At heart, I’m a writer, a teller of stories. I love listening to people, hearing their hearts and learning about the story they’ve lived so far and the story that God is writing. From there it’s easy to create an Action Plan that makes sense, to resource the students and parents with camps, classes, competitions, books and ideas to make the story they are living be cost and time effective and lead to success.
Whether you have a fast burner or struggling learner- We Can Help!
Whether your student is on a fast track or struggling to just keep going, we can help. We have worked with homeschooled students from around the world for many years- from profoundly gifted to disabled. Along the way, we’ve mentored everyone from Olympic hopefuls to kids who use P.T. for PE credit. We have helped kids go on to Internships, the military, community college, State and Christian colleges as well as Ivy League schools. Every student has a story and we would be honored to work alongside you to help write the next amazing chapter!
Testing often gets a bad rap in the homeschooling world. Could it be that we are trying to create space for our kids to be free and expressive, without the constraints of externally imposed values?
I want to take a moment to advocate for testing our homeschoolers- especially as they begin looking at the big, “what are you going to do with your life” type of questions.
Testing could and may determine a lot of things for your kids, such as what career they are eligible for if they go into the military, what college or university they get accepted to, how much debt they take out for vocational training post high school, what graduate schools and internships they are eligible for and more. Furthermore, tests can indicate disabilities and allow parents and advisors to seek out services and that can enable students to succeed where they might otherwise fail, or get certifications and training that wouldn’t be possible for them without accommodations.
While test taking might seem like a way to pigeon hole our kids, in many ways, their future will be impacted by their ability to take tests well. Some kids are naturally good test takers; some are not.
A general high school test schedule might look like the following:
High School Testing – 10th Grade
PSAT -The PSAT is a qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship Program. Each year the top 1% of 11th grade PSAT takers become semi-finalists. This is also considered a PSAT prep test.
ACT/SAT Test Prep – These tests attempt to measure college readiness and predict future success. Familiarity with each test and understanding test strategies (should you guess at questions to answer them or is it better to leave questions you aren’t sure about unanswered, etc.) will improve test scores, and many test-prep guides suggest doing at least three practice tests to ensure your best score.
The ACT – The ACT measures what a student already knows and will have learned throughout high school. Research indicates that 50% of those who re-take the ACT a second time improve their scores
The SAT – The SAT is a predictor of what the student is capable of. It deals with material that the student may not have learned in high school. There is no evidence that re-taking the SAT improves scores.
Students can take the ACT and SAT multiple times as long as they pay the exam fee.
High School Testing – 10th-12th Grade
AP Exams (Advanced Placement)- Colleges and Universities may or may not accept AP tests for credits/ Classes
CLEP exams (College Level Exam Placement) Students can begin taking CLEP exams as early as they want. CLEP tests scores can be “banked” for many years, but not all colleges and universities may accept CLEP tests for Credits/ classes.
High School Testing – 11th & 12th Grade
ACT – 11th & 12th
PSAT/ NMSQT, or National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test)– This test unlocks millions of dollars in scholarship money for qualifying students. Additionally, it can be a good indicator of how well students will perform on the SAT.
What about testing for military enlistment?
ASVAB Test – This test is given before joining the military (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery). This one is a skills discovery test.
What about testing for Community College?
What if your student has plans to go to the local Community College instead of college or military? Will they be required to take the ACT/ SAT? Probably not, unless they want to Dual Enroll as a high schooler, in which case, they may need to take a standardized test. Otherwise, a high school transcript or a GED should suffice.
Having a general idea of what your student wants to do after high school can help you determine what tests to take and what test schedule makes the most sense for you.