“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is the question many of us are asked while growing up. As the years go by and students get ready to graduate high school, this question often turns into, “what are you going to major in?” At Educate Midland, we understand that knowing what career you want to pursue right out of high school may seem overwhelming. That’s why we’ve chosen to highlight some of the most beneficial tips and resources to help guide you through career exploration.
Students who are undecided about their career interests should take time to self-reflect. You can do this through a career interest survey to identify one or two career fields that would be a good fit. Many careers within the surveys have similar skills, abilities, and values. For example, if you’re a student that enjoys music, you can explore options outside of music performance, such as audio engineering, music production, telecommunications, and many other options.
Furthermore, it would be best to discuss the following questions with trusted adults such as counselors, teachers, and parents to better understand your interests, skills, and strengths.
- What type of difference do you want to make in the world?
- What activities do you enjoy most?
- Would you be willing to go to college to learn more?
- How many years would you be willing to go to school for?
- Does this career type align with how you envision your future?
In addition to the career interest survey, personality and assessment tests can help you better distinguish your interests, skills, and strengths. Tests like these open up other possibilities that you may have never considered based on behavioral and skill questions. They may also confirm or clarify what you already know, but most importantly, they’ll help you look at your personality and abilities in ways that can guide you in choosing a career.
Once you start to get a sense of a few career paths that you’re interested in, you should use credible sources such as those listed below to learn more about each of them.
- O*Net and O*Net Career: Explore job statistics by career cluster.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Explore job data such as median pay and job outlook.
- Careeronestop.org: Watch short videos to get overviews of different careers.
- Illinois Career Information System: Watch short videos to get summaries of other careers.
Other essential attributes that you should consider are listed below. Be sure to look up this information to ensure that it aligns with your ideal career.
- Required preparation, education, and licensing.
- Typical daily activities, values, and skills required.
- Labor statistics, such as the projected job outlook, to determine if there are likely to be jobs in that field available in the future.
Again, you should discuss your findings with your parents and/or school counselor to help determine if the careers under consideration are a good personal fit. Discuss job requirements, college expectations, and affordability associated with each.
Planning and Exploration
Next, you should find ways to further explore your career interests by gaining hands-on experience and getting to know people who are well within those careers; this can be done by:
- Conducting informational interviews (virtually or in-person).
- Job shadowing to see what a day (or morning/afternoon) on the job looks like
- Touring a facility to get a sense of the workplace environment.
- Participating in activities related to their career interests (i.e., summer camps, clubs, workshops, etc.).
Simultaneously, you should take the appropriate steps like consulting your school counselor to help plan for your future. Planning your career is done in these steps:
- Selecting high school classes related to the future career, planning accordingly for college admissions within the major for the career field in mind.
- Completing an internship or apprenticeship (some high schools offer this as a class).
- Applying for part-time jobs and performing community service within the career cluster to gain experience and a better understanding of the field.
- Applying to colleges and universities within the desired career.
At Educate Midland, we know that adults spend most of their waking hours at work, which significantly impacts both job and overall life satisfaction. That’s why we find it important to educate our students on the career exploration process so one day, you can find a career that will bring contentment and spark joy!