While many people don’t begin career planning until they have entered (or graduated from) college, there are the lucky few that know precisely what they want to do, seemingly from the moment they were born. I’ve often wished I was of this breed, for there is something seriously appealing about forming plan and then championing your way through the less-settled parts of life.
Guess what, high school student? You’re well-poised to begin this process of picking a career, and there are many online resources to help you do this. You can begin by visiting Rutgers University’s career planner for high school students. This website attempts to breakdown some methods by which high-schoolers can select and plan for their future careers. In short, you should use this time to explore your talents and inclinations, and then volunteer, work part-time, or research specific careers that appeal to you. Once you have made a decision, plan ahead to ensure safe travels on your chosen path. Not only should you select a college with an appropriate major, but you might also start thinking beyond that. Understanding how to break into the field will help you best use your college time.
But is this information antiquated? According to a blog post by Penelope Trunk, unlike in the past, young people today will change careers about four times in their lives. Trunk further argues that while school may teach you knowledge and skills, it is not a place where students discover who they are or where they fit into the world. All of this suggests that over-committing to a particular career before thoroughly understanding one’s values and abilities is futile—if not wasteful. “Try being lost,” Trunk says. “It’s normal.”
Although Trunk’s article targets 20-somethings who are considering graduate school after desperately prying the job market’s jaws, her points have bearing on pre-college concerns. I, for one, had little idea what I wanted to do with my life during (or even after) high school. It was only post-graduation that such questions became urgent to me. Several of my friends have likewise complained about feeling pressured to pick a college major too fast, which suggests that even the profoundly exploratory college years are too sheltered to elicit certainty. In other words, perhaps your lifestyle and values must be seriously challenged before you can really identify what’s important to you. Maybe it’s only through the process of fighting that one learns what is worth fighting for.
None of this means that high school students shouldn’t begin to form ideas about what they like and want to do, nor does it suggest that high school is the time to decide on a career trajectory. Rather, it should remind you, oh wise high-schooler, that you now possess the maturity and the wisdom to begin contemplating the skills you have and the activities you enjoy and how you may wish to apply them to your education, career and beyond.
These key vocabulary words are expertly identified by Sentia tutors
Anachronistic: No longer in use; outmoded in design or style
Elicit: to bring out