Most children have some idea of what they want to be when they grow up, but by the time they reach their teen years, what was once a fun question begins to take on serious undertones. High school students, in particular, begin focusing on their post-graduation plans, including career planning. Fortunately, career planning while still in school does not have to be difficult.
Career Planning Made Easy
If you've already started thinking about what you'd like to do after school, then kudos to you. If you would like to start career planning but aren't sure what you'd like to do, then think about some of these factors:
- Where do your interests lie? Are you fascinated by how things work? Maybe you love the written word. Zeroing in on your interests will help steer you in the right direction for a career, and choosing a path you're already interested in will keep you happier in the long run.
- Do you have any special talents? Do you love music or have a keen ear for musical pitch? Do you automatically arrange books in the Dewy decimal system? Special talents and gifts have a way of leading you onto the right career path.
- Are you inwardly or outwardly focused? In other words, are you always concerned for others and their well-being? Or, on the other hand, do you instinctively know that in order to take care of others, you need to be at your healthiest? Answering these questions will help you determine if you'd rather work with a large group or with a smaller one. You'll also see whether you'd like to focus on helping others or fly solo.
Talk to a Guidance Counselor
Now that you've begun thinking of what you'd like to do, talking to a guidance counselor would be a good next step. You and your guidance counselor can sit down and discuss your school career thus far. He or she will have access to your records and will be able to give you an objective opinion on your future plans. Be sure to keep the following in mind:
- Come armed with a lot of questions.
- Don't be shy and speak up if you disagree.
- Ask for the counselor's opinion and really listen to his or her answer.
- Don't get discouraged if you hear something you don't like. Many, many people have been told by a guidance counselor to go down one career path, only to end up on a completely different career path.
- All final decisions are up to you. This is very important and bears remembering.
Take Specialized Classes
If any of your interests or talents are offered by way of coursework, then sign up for those courses. This can mean AP English, AP Physics, and the like. However, it's not all about AP courses. Specialized classes in music, theater, art, newspaper, etc, will all help in mapping out your career plan.
Join the Club
Join clubs that you have an interest in. It may not seem like much now, but you never know when the poetry club or French club will come in handy in your future. It may be as simple as you and your future employer took the same auto mechanics class in high school. It's little things like this that may help you get your start in the working world.
Nurture Good Teacher Relationships
Be pleasant, engaging, and helpful around your teachers. When your teacher needs someone to retrieve a stack of papers left in the Teachers' Room, volunteer to do it. Little things like this can put you in line for a stellar teacher's recommendation, and those can come in handy if you decide to look for a part time job.
Head to the Library
When you finally decide on the area you'd like to focus on, head to your local library or do Internet searches until you find out everything you possibly can. You can never know too much, and investigating a future career will give you a good idea of what some of the advantages and drawbacks are of that particular life path.
Find an Internship
Internships are a great way to gain real world experience while you're still in school. Most internships are unpaid in monetary terms, but most offer course credits. Besides the credits, having an internship can be a huge payoff in the long run. Not only will you have practical experience in your chosen field, but your prospective employer will see that you are focused, serious, and determined about your career path, a winning combination in anyone's book.
Find Part Time Work
If you'd really like to get a jump on your future career plans, finding a part time job may be just the ticket. Try to tailor your search to the area you'd like to eventually work in, and when on the interview, be sure to mention that to the prospective employer. Employers like nothing more than to hire candidates who not only have a keen interest in the work being offered, but that have a desire to stay long term with the company.
Think Outside the Box
Sometimes the best way to ensure a great career path comes from thinking outside the box. Here are a few ideas to help get you thinking creatively:
- Fundraise for a charity close to your heart.
- Participate in community service and help your community grow.
- Organize a food drive.
- If you have any ideas about ways to improve your school, schedule a meeting with your principle. You never know where that idea may take you.
Career planning may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be. There are practical steps you can begin to take right now that will help get you in line in terms of your future career. Think carefully, plan your next steps wisely, and you'll be able to enjoy the career of your dream sooner than you think.