TruSpark career exploration core motivations for teens middle school

Career Path Exploration and Motivation for Teens -TruSpark

Ah, the windy, mysterious career path(s)!

Grown-ups ask children all the time “what do you want to be when you grow up?” but how many of us actually help them find out what’s the career path that suits them or what educational path will help them shine?

And how many of us, homeschooling parents, know how to help them do that?

A growing fear of mine is that I won’t be able to help my son when it comes to deciding what career path to pick and how to explore it.

TruSpark career explorations find your teens core motivations

That’s why, today, we’ll talk about a new program for middle schoolers, TruSpark– a unique program created for teens so that they can find what motivates them and how these core motivations can lead to career or educational choices.

Disclaimer: TruSpark has offered me their product to review and they have compensated me for my time. I was not required to provide positive feedback, so the opinions I express in this article are unbiased. Read my Disclaimer to find out more.

Why is a Career Path Exploration Important?

Did you know that only 48% of people worldwide are satisfied with their job? That’s a scary number considering people go to work every day, for many years, stuck in a job they hate.

“Did you know that only 48% of people worldwide are satisfied with their job?”

My story about career path exploration

I’ll just go ahead and admit it. I had a very faint idea of what I wanted when it came to choosing my dream career. I knew I should choose something that makes me happy, something that drives me through the day, something that’s worth waking up for. But every time I thought about what career exactly that would mean for me, I’d come up blank.

I don’t know about you, but I kept skipping from career to career over the years, with no set direction.

No one sat me down to discuss career or even educational paths seriously with me during middle or high school. We don’t have a system in place that takes you through that journey.

I was the perfect A+ student throughout my school. I had scholarships through my high school and college years. That didn’t prepare me for real life.

That’s how I ended up being a translator, an Etsy seller, a photographer, and a blogger but I still don’t know what I would like to do long-term.

I know how it’s like to be confused about these aspects and I don’t want my son to struggle with this as I did. So I decided to do something about it as soon as possible. That’s why I was happy to find TruSpark.

Is passion enough?

As a lot of you already know, M is clearly passionate about science. He would do just that all day long if left to his own devices. So it’s obvious that he will most probably follow a STEM career. But there are just so many options out there! Which one suits him best? How do we choose it and where do we find more about it?

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I didn’t have a passion to drive me and I think that, in part, it contributed to my confusion every time I was at a crossroads.

But is passion enough to decide your career? After understanding what TruSpark offers, I’d say NO. It’s not enough to just follow your passion even if it does play an important role in choosing your future career path. Understanding why you are good at certain things and not like others and planning for your career is equally important.

About TruSpark

TruSpark is a new program meant to help pre-teens and teenagers shed some light on the things that drive them, their core motivations, through self-awareness.

It’s been created by a team of dedicated experts: psychologists, teachers, career recruiters, researchers, consultants, and life coaches.

The program has an older brother, TruMotivate, that’s aimed at college-level young adults. So TruSpark‘s creators took the model that worked so well for so many adults and scaled it down to fit teenagers.

This model is based on over 60 years of research and SIMA science (System for Identifying Motivated Abilities) and it’s been used by leaders from NASA, IBM, Disney, and more. So even though it’s a new product, the science behind it was proven again and again.

TruSpark career exploration middle school teenagers monkeyandmom6

Here is what this program actually does:

  • assesses kids to find their core motivations (what drives them, what they are great at, talents, interests)
  • offers curriculum that explains in-depth why these things are important and how to take each step towards knowing what they want to do further.
  • provides a list of possible career paths for each of the kid’s core motivations
  • offers career exploration through O*Net.

So aside from finding out what motivates your kids, you get to explore possible educational or career paths for them.

How does TruSpark work?

TruSpark is a narrative-based tool that makes it flexible and personalized to each individual. It’s a great introspection tool that guides kids into analyzing their inner drive to find out what motivates them. Here’s how:

  1. The kids will have to write 2 short stories (2-3 sentences long) that made them feel good about themselves.
  2. Based on these 2 stories, the program will then ask some questions about what was important for them in those moments and how it made them feel.
  3. Once they finished selecting their preferences, TruSpark will show them their top 3 core motivations plus career suggestions for every one of them.
  4. By using their partner tool, O*Net, the kids can then explore each and every career suggested and more.
  5. Through the TruSpark curriculum, kids understand better why introspection is important by getting examples from their favorite characters like Superman or Lucy from The Chronicles of Narnia.
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TruSpark can be used at home or in a group setting like school or co-op. They have separate plans for these situations.

You can really go beyond these and analyze your child’s core motivations and even hidden elements that could hinder their true motivations. Keep reading to see how I did it.

Setting Up TruSpark

TruSpark is easy to set up:

  • create an account
  • purchase curriculum and assessments
  • add students
  • follow the curriculum
  • explore the career suggestions
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TruSpark has multiple payment combinations:

A set consisting of one assessment and one curriculum costs $59.95 (current price for January 2022) and that’s the best deal for homeschool families.

They also offer a free sample that you can access here.

📣 And keep scrolling for a chance to win a curriculum and 2 assessments! 📣

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Prices for January 2022


TruSpark is tied up with O*Net to offer a full picture of the careers available.

O*Net not only lists the careers but offers in-depth details about each. They have a short video presenting the career and they even include yearly payment and even how in demand the job is.

You can check what kind of studies you need for that career, which will help with choosing the right educational path.

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It’s all about motivation! But what are core motivations?

TruSpark‘s main goal is to find your core motivations. These are all the things that we are good at, that make us feel good when we do them. It’s everything that drives us every day.

I actually tried to think of my core motivations when I saw them mentioned on the website- before I took the assessment or read through the curriculum- but came up blank trying to figure out which ones were the dominant 3 out of their list of 19 that you can check here!

See the 19 core motivations on TruSpark’s website

By knowing your top 3 motivations, you can then explore the many career paths suggested by TruSpark and even dive into each career listed through O*Net.

After going through TruSpark‘s curriculum and assessment for me and my son I was shocked at how accurate these were!

I decided to ask a close friend of ours to take it for her daughter, who is the opposite of M in personality. And their results were extremely accurate as well!

I love that for each core motivation you get a list of career suggestions! What a great starting point to start exploring. Here are my results and my son’s results:

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Laura’s results
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M’s results

As you can see, we’ve all got different results. But what do we actually do with these aside from getting a list of careers?

Using core motivations to find strengths and weaknesses

Knowing M’s motivations, I can now understand why some tasks are more appealing to him than others.

To further understand this, I decided to analyze every one of the top 3 core motivations he’s got and translate those into our studies. It also helps to think about them from the opposite direction. What hidden things behind these strengths could hinder his progress?

My analysis is below. I wrote them down exactly as they came to me and it helped shed some more clarity in the way my son’s inner-drive works and where possible issues might be found. That way I could also brainstorm some possible immediate goals. This would make for a nice exercise after you go through the curriculum and assessment from TruSpark.

TruSpark Motivation Journal printable monkeyandmom

I made a printable sheet for you to further analyze this for your own children if you need to. You will find it in our Resource Library, which you can access for free by subscribing to my newsletter.

1. The Expert – mastering a skill or subject

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School: Knowing this now confirms that I chose the right math program for him, for example, because it’s mastery-based.

Possible downside: This also leads to some degree of perfectionism. That means that while M tends to be motivated to master a skill, this can be hindered by his need to make it perfect, which will probably make him quit and become frustrated easily.

Example: M always had a love for math, exact things, patterns, and puzzles. So I thought that a Rubik’s cube should fascinate him enough. He has 4 or 5 various cubes and didn’t solve any because they frustrate him. Not because he isn’t attracted to them, he is. He just sees he can’t do it quickly, so he quits.

These kinds of introspections and short stories allow me to find his problem areas where we can work further.

Focus points: In order to help him, I should find ways for him to see that perfectionism isn’t always good. In fact, more often than not, it stands in our way of experiencing the world at full capacity.

Goals: For now, I want to sit him down and search Youtube videos on how to solve a Rubik’s cube. Sometimes things don’t just come to you, sometimes there’s a learning curve and sometimes you need outside help. I think he needs to understand all these and accept them as part of growing and developing.

Getting his first core motivation as an expert makes a lot of sense now and I feel that I finally have some missing puzzle pieces to help me understand him better.

2. The Explorer – explore and discover the unknown

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This is another one that rings so true for him. He is constantly digging for new information independently and I am amazed on how he can jump from concept to concept then come back to it until he understood it. He isn’t afraid of going into new things that interest him.

School: For a curriculum hint, this would mean that M can get bored easily doing repetitive work that doesn’t manage to hold his interest enough. He would need engaging curricula that aren’t too repetitive and that manage to spark further questions.

Possible downside: Sometimes he is so engrossed in finding out more that he will not go in-depth enough before skipping to the next concept. I can see this becoming a problem as he gets older and the materials he needs to complete will require more concentration and skimming over the top won’t be enough.

Example: for his latest passion, particle Physics, he is just grasping the theoretical parts. He didn’t take a traditional route to learn these subjects and there are gaps between them. At some point, he will need to get back to basics and learn everything in depth.

Focus points: I should encourage more in-depth study by probably splitting the subjects into smaller chunks and stretching these over a longer period of time. Also, encouraging note-taking should benefit him long term.

Goals: Starting Physics from the basics up, including all the math parts he skipped. Possibly finding some online labs or hands-on experiments. We already got him a Mel Physics subscription that we will make good use of to keep things interesting and appeal to his 2nd core motivation.

3. The Visitonary – live out ideas

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Dreaming and inventing things in his head has always been a present part of M. This core motivation hasn’t come as a surprise, either.

School: This core motivation could actually help him in writing assignments or finding solutions out of the box. I guess a more appropriate curriculum for this core motivation would be an open-ended one, where the child is supposed to try and figure out the answer themselves before you provide it to them. It’s something I’ve been considering in the past as well but never found something quite as I imagined.

Possible downside: His ideas could not always be feasible. He is strong-headed enough to push ideas that might not be doable. Learning how to anchor these into reality should fix this issue.

Example: He was already imagining how he would build a Dyson Sphere without considering the enormity of the task. We don’t have the necessary technology for such a feat and there are a lot of other problems to be solved before getting to that stage.
Because of this core motivation, he is also attracted to theories and other people’s ideas. It’s a great starting point for finding solutions to problems.

Focus points: Knowing your limits and the limits of the world around you. Learning how to assess which ideas are immediately doable and which fall into the theoretical aspect.

Goals: Being able to discern between reality, limits, and theory. Being able to break tasks into smaller chunks that are doable at the moment, or even chunks that would serve as stepping stones for future generations. Dreaming big is good, but then in order to make those dreams come true, you might want to start from the bottom of the stairs.

Why I like TruSpark for a career path exploration

I can see how TruSpark could open a door to a lot of careers and educational path exploration and more. Here’s what I noticed:

⭐️ It’s surprisingly accurate.

I have played around with similar websites and they all seemed to have a standard answer- you’re awesome in so many ways.
They are just personality tests that are just part of the planning you need to undertake when choosing a career. There is so much more tied to it. When I’ve got the TruSpark results I was actually nodding my head because they all rang true for me.

My son’s results reflect accuracy as well. I was pleasantly surprised to see them.

⭐️ It’s easy and quick to use.

It won’t take you weeks to complete, a few hours are enough and you get the results. I liked that a lot because I never seem to have enough time for extras.

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⭐️ Great for understanding motivations.

I feel that after going through the curriculum and assessment I have a better understanding of what drives my son. It’s great for introspection but it also helped me as a parent to see what drives and motivates my son. So now I can keep his core motivations in mind when choosing schoolwork or a teaching style.

This was awesome since TruSpark also helps homeschool parents find ways to motivate their kids easier. We’ve talked about motivation before, here, so TruSpark fits perfectly into my previous list.

Knowing what drives your kids through every day, what brings them joy, and what are their biggest strengths will definitely help you plan better.

It’s also an awesome tool to encourage teens to self-exploration, decision making, planning, and even acceptance. Once they know what drives them, it will be easier to just accept they will never probably like some stuff as much as others.

As you’ve seen above, in my short analysis, it’s also a great starting point to actually find the things in your core motivations that might pull you down from being your absolute best.

⭐️Great for career and educational path exploration.

TruSpark is a great start for career exploration.

I honestly didn’t know where to start with this and I feel that this tool has opened a whole new door into career exploration for us.

While knowing that my son would end up working in STEM, I didn’t know details about all the fields and what each of them entails. It’s still early to decide, so we will definitely be back in a few years to retake the assessment and see if anything changed.

⭐️ Multiple angles.

Until TruSpark, I have never heard of O*Net before. I think it’s an awesome resource to use and it really has all the details about a future career. It truly helps children explore careers from multiple angles, including the education path and even payment expected per year.

By using these resources, I feel that we really took the guessing out of the future path and now we can truly focus on what drives my son as a person, to increase his strength, get him to specialize where he will be self-driven to grow.

I think this also puts into perspective his weaknesses. This way I also know where we need to work more.

Aside O*Net, TruSpark also offers links to other resources that you can use to enrich this curriculum.

⭐️ Helps plan.

This program truly encourages research and proper planning, something I feel that many people lack (including myself). I think it’s an important skill to have for long-term plans.

TruSpark really encourages teens to consider all angles and create a solid plan, maybe even a backup plan, when choosing their possible career. No more stumbling in the dark without a clear goal in mind.

What I found lacking

I feel that TruSpark has a lot of potential and we will be using it in the future. So here’s what I felt could be improved:

⬇️While this is a great tool, I feel that it could be developed a bit more. I love the direction it’s going, but since it’s aimed at middle-schoolers, it would be great if it focused more on the educational path.
You can absolutely work down from your career to the path you need to get there.
Another lesson treating just how many options to pursue their studies would have been welcome.

⬇️It’s US-centered. Unfortunately, not all countries have such a well-thought-out system. O*Net is an important part of TruSpark and I think that TruSpark could improve their reach greatly if they at least looked for similar services to suggest for every continent, if not multiple countries.
Nevertheless, I appreciate the wealth of information they offer and it will definitely come in handy when exploring possible career paths and possible educational paths. Even if we won’t end up doing them in the USA.

My rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Four and a half out of five stars just because this program has a lot of potential. I hope the guys over at TruSpark will add more to their curriculum and resources in the future.

It’s an impressive program and we will most definitely come back to it over the years to re-assess and re-plan our route.

It’s hands-on the best career path exploration program for teens out there! I love the fact that it offers us the possibility to just get a general direction in which we should be going, being so much more than just a personality test.

Also, the fact that it has all tools rolled into one is an added bonus for us. That way we can explore at leisure and compare multiple choices.

For those of you that would find a video easier to follow, I made one on my Youtube channel:


We-are-homeschoolers facebook group monkeyandmom

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As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Read my Disclosure to find out more about how I support my website and how you can help.

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