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Seven Essential Lessons for High School Students Choosing Their Career

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A high school student going through a career maze

Charting the course of your future might seem like a monumental task when you're a teenager, especially when it comes to deciding on a career path post-high school. It's a vast sea of possibilities and finding a fulfilling career amidst this vastness can feel overwhelming. But, fret not! Over the years, I've had the privilege of speaking to countless people who love what they do and have found deeply fulfilling careers.

In this blog post, I'll share seven lessons I've gathered from these conversations. These lessons aren't quick-fix formulas, but they are principles and ideas that can guide your thought process, help you get to know yourself better, and aid you in identifying the kind of work that you'll find rewarding.

So, if you're standing at the crossroads of your life, unsure about which direction to head in, read on.

One: Follow Your Curiosity

The world is an intriguing place, full of mysteries to uncover and new knowledge to gain. It's natural for us, especially as teenagers, to be curious about a multitude of things. One of the foremost pieces of advice that fulfilled individuals have shared is about embracing this curiosity. Often, we are told to look for our passion, as though it's a switch waiting to be flipped. But, passion isn't always something that's immediately apparent. It can be discovered and cultivated over time. And curiosity can serve as the stepping stone to this discovery.

Now, you may ask, "How do I follow my curiosity?" The answer lies in paying attention to what interests you, what excites you, what makes you lose track of time. It could be anything: a novel that you couldn't put down, a documentary that left you pondering, or even a hobby that you enjoy.

For instance, if you find yourself engrossed in storytelling, consider exploring careers that involve crafting narratives, like writing, marketing, or filmmaking. If you're fascinated by the stars and planets, astronomy might be worth exploring.

Curiosity-led exploration not only opens you to a variety of fields but also makes the process of career discovery more enjoyable and less pressurized. You're not frantically searching for a pre-destined passion; you're simply following your natural interest, discovering new areas, and learning along the way. Remember, your career journey is a marathon, not a sprint. Enjoy the process of exploring and learning, and you might just stumble upon a career path that you find deeply fulfilling.

Journal Prompts:

  1. Curiosity Inventory: List down all the topics, activities, or areas that you are curious about. Don't limit yourself to what seems 'career-related.'

  2. Curiosity in Action: Reflect on a time when you followed your curiosity. What was the experience like? What did you learn from it?

  3. Lost in Time: Think about the moments when you lose track of time, deeply engrossed in a task or activity. What are you doing during these moments?

  4. Branching Out: Choose one area from your curiosity inventory. How can you learn more about it? Are there books, podcasts, documentaries, or courses available?

  5. Connecting the Dots: How might your areas of curiosity connect to potential careers? Can you identify any patterns or themes?

Examples

Discovering a Love for Coding

Emma, a high school senior, always had a curiosity for how things worked behind the scenes in her favorite video games. One day, she decided to try a free online course in coding to understand the basics. She fell in love with the logical yet creative nature of coding and began to spend her free time learning different programming languages. Her curiosity led her to join a coding club at her school and participate in several coding competitions. Now, she's planning to major in Computer Science in college, with the dream of becoming a game developer.

A Passion for Environment

James was always curious about the natural world. His favorite subjects were Biology and Environmental Science, and he spent many after-school hours watching documentaries about ecosystems and biodiversity. He followed his curiosity by volunteering for a local environmental conservation organization, where he gained hands-on experience in the field. This experience solidified his interest in the environment and guided him to choose Environmental Studies for his university degree.

Unearthing a Career in Archaeology

Sophia's curiosity was piqued by ancient civilizations ever since she read a historical novel in her freshman year. She was fascinated by the thought of old societies and how people used to live. Following her curiosity, she visited museums, read books, and even took part in a local archaeological dig. This exploratory journey led her to realize her passion for archaeology. Today, she is studying History and plans to specialize in Archaeology, aiming to bring untold stories from the past to the present.

Everyone's path is unique, and there's no one-size-fits-all approach to choosing a career. The important thing is to keep learning, keep exploring, and let your curiosity guide you towards your fulfilling career.

FAQs

Q: How can I distinguish between a fleeting interest and a genuine curiosity that could lead to a career? A: Fleeting interests often come and go, while genuine curiosity tends to stick around and even grows over time. You feel driven to learn more, dive deeper, and spend more time on the subject. However, don't dismiss fleeting interests right away. Sometimes, they might serve as stepping stones to discovering a deeper interest.

Q: I have so many things I'm curious about. How do I focus on just one? A: You don't have to! Exploring multiple curiosities can often lead to unique and interdisciplinary career paths. However, if you feel overwhelmed, try to dedicate some time to explore each curiosity individually. This way, you can gauge which interests hold your attention and enthusiasm over time.

Q: What if I don't find any career options that align with my curiosity? A: That's perfectly okay. Your curiosity doesn't always have to dictate your career choice. It can also guide you to hobbies or interests that enrich your life. Moreover, as the working world evolves, new career paths continue to emerge, some of which might align with your areas of curiosity in the future.

Q: Can I change my career choice if I find that my curiosity has shifted? A: Absolutely. Career paths are increasingly non-linear today, and it's not uncommon for people to switch careers. The skills and experiences you gain along the way are often transferable and valuable across different fields. So, if your curiosity and interests evolve, your career can too.

Two: Learn from Others

We can learn a lot from the stories and experiences of others who have traveled the road before us. It can offer insights into what we might enjoy or dislike, provide a glimpse into the realities of certain careers, and offer us strategies to navigate our career paths.

To start learning from others, think about who in your circle has a career that intrigues you. It could be a family member, a teacher, a mentor, or even someone you've only read about. Once you've identified these individuals, approach them for a conversation. Inquire about their experiences, their challenges, and their triumphs. Ask them about how they decided on their career path and what they enjoy most and least about their work. Their stories can provide a wealth of knowledge and can help guide your career decisions.

But remember, while others' experiences can inform your decisions, your career should ultimately align with your personal interests, skills, and values.

Journal Prompts:

  1. Who are some people you admire for their career choices? Why do you admire them?
  2. What is one question you'd like to ask them about their career?
  3. What is something you've learned from someone else's career story that surprised you?
  4. Based on what you've learned from others, what are some careers you might be interested in exploring?

As you learn from others, keep an open mind and remember that everyone's career journey is unique. It's okay if your path looks different – it's about finding what works for you.

Examples 

 Learning from a Mentor

Jake was in his senior year of high school and had always admired his uncle, a successful entrepreneur. Despite his interest in entrepreneurship, he didn't know if it was the right path for him. One day, he decided to have a frank conversation with his uncle about the realities of being an entrepreneur. He learned about the long hours, the risk involved, the satisfaction of creating something new, and the thrill of overcoming challenges. His uncle's experiences helped him understand the entrepreneurial journey better and confirmed his interest in entrepreneurship. He decided to study Business Management in college and plans to start his own business someday.

Gaining Insight from a Teacher

Mia, a high school student, had always been intrigued by her biology teacher's passion for the subject. She admired how her teacher could make complex concepts easy to understand. Mia decided to have a conversation with her teacher about how she chose her career path. She learned about the teacher's journey from a Biology major to a passionate educator. Her teacher's story made Mia realize that she too had a passion for biology and loved explaining concepts to her peers. This conversation led Mia to consider a career in teaching.

 Inspired by a Public Figure

Daniel was a high school student and an avid reader. He had always admired the works of J.K. Rowling and was impressed by her journey from being a single mother living on welfare to one of the most successful authors in the world. Inspired by her perseverance and creativity, Daniel decided to explore a career in writing. He began writing short stories and participated in writing competitions. Now, he's planning to major in Creative Writing in college, hoping to become an author someday.

These stories are just examples, and everyone's journey will be different. What's important is to seek inspiration from others, ask questions, and use that knowledge to make informed career decisions.

FAQs

Q: How can I approach someone for career advice without seeming intrusive? A: Starting with a genuine compliment about their work or expressing your curiosity about their field can make the conversation feel less intrusive. It's also important to be respectful of their time and possibly set a specific timeframe for the discussion.

Q: What if I don't know anyone in the career field I'm interested in? A: There are numerous online resources and social platforms where you can connect with professionals in various fields. Websites like LinkedIn can be a great place to start. Also, consider attending career fairs, workshops, or online webinars related to your field of interest.

Q: Can I trust everything someone tells me about their career? A: While it's beneficial to listen to others' experiences, it's essential to remember that everyone's journey is unique. What works for one person may not necessarily work for you. Always do your own research to confirm any advice you receive.

Q: What if the advice I receive from others contradicts my career desires? A: It's important to listen to others' advice, but ultimately the decision is yours. You know yourself best. Use the advice as guidance, but also trust your instincts and passions. Remember, your career should be fulfilling to you, not to someone else.

Three: Explore Different Paths

It's entirely normal not to know what you want to do after high school. One of the best ways to figure out what careers may suit you is by exploring different paths. Try internships, part-time jobs, volunteering, or even job-shadowing opportunities.

When you experience different types of work firsthand, you'll gain a better understanding of what you enjoy and what you don't. For instance, if you think you might be interested in medicine, try volunteering at a local hospital or shadowing a doctor. If you love writing, consider starting a blog or contributing to your school newspaper.

Remember, these experiences are about learning, not necessarily about finding the "perfect" job right away. They'll help you understand the realities of different careers, gain valuable skills, and build a network of contacts that may prove helpful later.

Journal Prompts:

  1. What are some careers you're curious about?
  2. How can you gain some experience or insight into these careers?
  3. What is a skill you'd like to develop, and how could you practice it through a job, internship, or volunteer opportunity?

This exploration phase is an exciting time. Keep an open mind, seize opportunities that come your way, and remember that it's okay to change paths. The goal is to find work that aligns with your interests, skills, and values.

Examples 

The Internship Experience

Emma was a high school senior with an interest in fashion but wasn't sure if she wanted to pursue it as a career. To gain firsthand experience, she secured an internship at a local fashion boutique during her summer break. Emma had the opportunity to learn about merchandising, customer service, and even some aspects of fashion design. The internship experience confirmed her love for fashion, and she decided to study Fashion Merchandising in college.

Volunteering at a Local Animal Shelter

Liam, an animal lover, was undecided about his career path after high school. He decided to volunteer at a local animal shelter. Liam enjoyed caring for animals and learned about the operations of a non-profit organization. However, he realized that while he loved animals, he was more interested in the administrative side of the organization. This led him to consider a career in non-profit management.

The Part-time Job at a Library

Sofia enjoyed reading but never considered a career related to literature until she took a part-time job at her local library. During her time there, Sofia discovered a passion for archiving and preservation work. She loved the organization and categorization involved, and she decided to explore a career in Library Science.

These stories showcase how hands-on experiences can provide valuable insights into different careers. By exploring different paths, you'll be better equipped to make decisions about your future. Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all approach to choosing a career. What matters most is finding work that aligns with your interests, values, and skills.

FAQs

Q: I'm not sure what I want to explore. How do I decide where to start? A: Begin with your interests or hobbies. What do you enjoy doing in your free time? This could be a good starting point. Additionally, consider your skills and how they might apply to different careers. Don't worry about committing to one path right now. The goal is exploration.

Q: How can I find internships or volunteer opportunities? A: Start by looking at local businesses or organizations related to your interests. They might have opportunities available for high school students. Websites like InternMatch, Idealist, or your school's career center can also be helpful resources.

Q: What if I don't enjoy the path I initially choose to explore? A: That's perfectly okay! The purpose of exploration is to find out what you do and don't like. If you realize a certain path isn't for you, that's a valuable insight. Don't be afraid to change directions and explore something else.

Q: I have a part-time job, but it's not related to the career I want to pursue. Is it still beneficial? A: Absolutely. Any work experience is valuable. It can help you develop transferrable skills like communication, teamwork, and problem-solving, which are beneficial in any career. Plus, it could provide insight into what you enjoy in a work environment, such as working with people, problem-solving, or working independently.

Four: Value the Journey, Not Just the Destination

Sometimes, in the rush to figure out our future, we forget to appreciate the journey. Remember, your career will be a significant part of your life, and it's not just about reaching a certain job title or salary. It's about finding work that brings you satisfaction and fulfillment. This may mean prioritizing work-life balance, aligning your career with your values, or seeking roles that allow you to make a difference.

Don't get too caught up in societal expectations or what others think you should do. This is your career journey, and it's important to make decisions that resonate with you. Also, understand that your career will likely evolve over time. You're not choosing one path for the rest of your life; you're choosing a starting point. It's okay, and completely normal, to shift your career path as you gain experience and your interests change.

Journal Prompts:

  1. What does a fulfilling career look like to you?
  2. How does your ideal career align with your values and lifestyle?
  3. What are some societal or external expectations that may be influencing your career decisions? How can you ensure your decisions align with your values and goals?

Learning to value the journey and stay true to yourself can lead to a more fulfilling career in the long run. Even if you're unsure about your career path now, know that each experience you have will contribute to your career journey in some way. Be patient with yourself, keep an open mind, and trust that you're on the right path.

Examples 

The Teacher Who Became a Baker

Jake loved teaching. He loved the kids, the satisfaction of helping them understand complex concepts, and the vibrant energy of the school environment. However, he felt a constant tug towards another passion – baking. On weekends, Jake found himself experimenting with different bread recipes, watching baking tutorials, and dreaming about owning a bakery. Eventually, he took a leap of faith, quit teaching, and opened his own bakery. He realized that while he enjoyed teaching, his true passion was baking, and it brought him more joy than he ever felt in the classroom.

 The High Achiever Who Chose a Different Path

Sophia was a high achiever. She was always at the top of her class and was accepted into a prestigious university to study law, a career her parents had hoped for. But Sophia found herself drawn to environmental science and sustainability. Despite the pressure, she made the difficult decision to switch her major. Sophia went on to work for a non-profit organization focused on environmental conservation, a job that brought her more fulfillment than she believes a law career ever could have.

The Artist Who Embraced Change

Miguel was an artist, passionate about painting and sketching. However, as technology evolved, he found himself fascinated by digital art. He decided to learn about graphic design and animation. Initially, it was challenging, but Miguel enjoyed the process of learning and evolving. He realized that his career wasn't a fixed path, but a journey that could change and adapt over time.

These stories show us that there's more to a career than just a destination or an end goal. It's a journey of exploration, self-discovery, and personal growth. And most importantly, it's about finding something that brings you happiness and fulfillment.

FAQs

Q: I'm not sure what I value in a career. How can I figure this out? A: Start by reflecting on what brings you joy and satisfaction. Think about activities or tasks where you lose track of time because you're so engaged. Consider what you care deeply about, whether that's helping others, solving complex problems, or creating something new. Remember, your values can change over time, so it's okay if what you value now is different from what you value in the future.

Q: I feel pressured to follow a certain career path because of my family's expectations. What should I do? A: It's important to communicate with your family about your feelings. Express your interests and aspirations, and explain why you want to explore different paths. Remember, this is your career, and ultimately, you're the one who needs to be fulfilled and satisfied with your work.

Q: My interests don't seem to align with any lucrative career paths. Should I still pursue them? A: It's essential to find a balance between doing what you love and earning a living. Some people find it fulfilling to pursue their passions as hobbies while working in a different field. Others manage to turn their passions into a career. Look for ways to incorporate your interests into your career, even if it's not the main focus. Also, keep in mind that there are often niche fields or unique opportunities that you may not be aware of yet.

Q: I'm worried about making the wrong career decision. What if I regret it later? A: It's normal to feel apprehensive about making big decisions, especially when it comes to your career. Remember, though, that few career decisions are irreversible. People often change careers, go back to school, or take different paths throughout their working lives. Even if you make a choice you later regret, you'll have learned more about what you want in a career, and you can use that knowledge to make more informed decisions in the future.

Five: Use Failure as a Stepping Stone, Not a Stumbling Block

Adolescence can be a scary time - you're on the cusp of adulthood, making decisions that could shape your future, and you might be afraid of making the wrong choices or failing. However, one of the greatest lessons to learn early in your career journey is that failure is not a dead-end. It's a stepping stone to success.

A misstep, a failed class, a job application rejection – they may seem disastrous in the moment, but they're not the end of the world. They are, instead, opportunities to learn, grow, and evolve. These setbacks can provide valuable insight into what you do and don't want in your career. They give you a chance to learn about resilience and perseverance, key skills that will be valuable throughout your life.

A rejection from your dream university might lead you to a different college where you discover a course or subject you hadn't considered before. A failed job application could give you the impetus to work on your skills and come back stronger.

Failure is often the universe's way of redirecting you to a path you might not have considered but could lead to fulfilling work. So, instead of fearing failure, embrace it. See it as an essential part of your journey to finding a career that satisfies and fulfills you.

Embrace each failure, not with a sense of resignation, but with curiosity. Ask yourself: "What can I learn from this experience? How can I grow from it? What opportunities can this setback potentially lead to?" Through this perspective, you will find that each 'failure' brings you one step closer to your fulfilling career.

This mindset might not come naturally, and that's okay. It's something you cultivate over time. Remember, the aim is not to avoid failure entirely (which is impossible) but to change how you respond to it. And by doing so, you can turn a potential stumbling block into a stepping stone towards success.

The journey to a fulfilling career is rarely a straight path. It's a winding road with peaks and valleys, failures, and triumphs. And every step along that road, every failure, and every success is a learning opportunity that brings you closer to understanding what work you will find truly fulfilling.

Journal Prompts

  1. Reflect on a time when you experienced failure. What was your initial reaction? How did you handle the situation?

  2. How did that failure impact you in the long run? Did it open up any new opportunities or paths you hadn't considered before?

  3. How has your perspective on failure changed over time? If it hasn't changed, how would you like it to change?

  4. Write a letter to your future self in case of a failure. What comforting words or motivational phrases would you say to lift your spirits?

  5. Think about a failure you fear in your career path. What could be the potential silver linings or learning opportunities if that failure came to pass?

  6. What steps can you take to cultivate a more positive mindset towards failure?

  7. How can you apply the concept of "using failure as a stepping stone, not a stumbling block" to a current or potential situation in your life?

Examples 

  1. Simon's Rejection Turnaround: Simon had always dreamed of attending an Ivy League university. He poured his heart and soul into his applications and was confident he would get in. But when rejection letters started pouring in, he was devastated. However, Simon didn't let this deter him. He accepted a place at a local state university and decided to make the best of his situation. At the state university, Simon discovered his passion for environmental science, a subject he hadn't considered before. The rejection from the Ivy League universities, initially seen as a failure, became a stepping stone towards finding his passion.

  2. Martha's Entrepreneurial Journey: Martha always had a knack for business. At 16, she started her first venture - a handmade jewelry business. Unfortunately, despite her efforts, the business did not take off as she had hoped. Instead of giving up, Martha took this failure as a learning experience. She sought feedback from her customers, learned more about business management, and improved her marketing strategies. A year later, she launched a new venture – a sustainable clothing line, which quickly gained traction. Martha's previous failure became a stepping stone to her successful clothing business.

  3. Elijah's Internship Setback: Elijah had his heart set on an internship at a local tech company. When he didn't get the position, he was crushed. However, he chose to see this setback as an opportunity to improve. He asked for feedback and spent the summer brushing up on his coding skills. When he reapplied the following year, not only did he get the internship, but his improved skills also earned him praise from his supervisors. Elijah's initial failure became a stepping stone that pushed him to improve his skills.

  4. Sophia's Career Switch: Sophia always thought she wanted to be a lawyer, like her parents. She took part in mock trials and debate clubs to prepare herself. However, she didn't make it into the law program of her choice and felt like a failure. With some reflection, she realized she was more passionate about the research aspect of her mock trials rather than the arguing aspect. This led her to consider a career in academia or research, a path she hadn't thought of before. What seemed like a failure initially opened up a new career path for her.

  5. Jake's College Transfer: Jake was thrilled to start studying architecture at his first-choice college. However, during his first year, he struggled with the course's technical aspects and failed a crucial module. Although he felt disheartened, Jake didn't let this failure deter him. Instead, he transferred to a different college where he could study architectural history, a topic that fascinated him. Jake's failure helped him find a subject he enjoyed more and was better suited to his strengths.

FAQs

Q: I failed in my first attempt at something important. How can I stay motivated? A: Failure is a part of the learning process. Remember, most successful people have faced numerous failures before achieving success. Use this experience to learn and improve. It's not the failure that defines you, but how you respond to it.

Q: I feel embarrassed about my failure. How can I overcome this? A: Remember, everyone fails at some point. It's a universal experience and nothing to be ashamed of. Try to see it as a chance to learn and grow rather than a mark against your character.

Q: How can I turn a failure into a stepping stone? A: Start by analyzing what went wrong. What could you have done differently? Use these insights to improve your strategies and approach. Also, consider seeking feedback or advice from others. This way, you can learn from their experiences and avoid similar pitfalls.

Q: My fear of failure is holding me back. How can I overcome this fear? A: It's natural to fear failure, but don't let it stop you from trying. Start by setting realistic expectations and remember that it's okay not to succeed at first. Also, try reframing failure as a learning opportunity rather than something to fear.

Q: I have failed multiple times. Should I give up? A: Multiple failures can be disheartening, but they also provide you with numerous opportunities to learn and grow. Remember, many successful people failed numerous times before they found success. Persistence is key. 

Six: Ask Big Questions

Asking big questions about what you value most in life, what kind of person you want to be, and how you want to contribute to the world is an essential part of planning your future career. It's easy to get swept up in external factors like salary and prestige, but the core of a fulfilling career lies in aligning what you do with who you are and what you truly care about.

Think of these questions as guiding stars on your career exploration journey. They are not meant to limit you, but rather to help steer you towards a path that resonates with your true self.

Asking big questions often requires quiet reflection. It's about stepping back from the hustle and bustle of everyday life to consider the bigger picture. This can be challenging, especially when you are eager to move forward quickly. However, the insights that come from these reflections are invaluable. They can help you understand yourself better, making you more confident in your decisions.

Journal Prompts:

  1. What values are most important to me?
  2. How do I want to contribute to the world?
  3. What kind of person do I want to be?
  4. How does my ideal career align with my answers to these big questions?
  5. What small steps can I take now that align with my responses to these big questions?

When you're unsure of where to go, these big questions can serve as your compass. They might not lead you to a single destination, but they can help you navigate through the many options and opportunities that come your way. It's about making choices that feel true to you, regardless of external pressures or expectations.

Examples: 

Imagine Maria, a senior in high school, who's always been top of her class in academics. Everyone around her, including her teachers and parents, expects her to pursue a career in law or medicine. But Maria finds herself drawn to social work. She cares deeply about issues of social justice and wants to help marginalized communities. One day in her sociology class, they had a guest speaker who was a social worker. Maria was inspired by the speaker's passion for her work and the real-world impact she was making. This led Maria to question what she truly valued: prestige and high income, or making a difference in people's lives? She realized that she'd rather have a career that aligns with her desire to help others and make a positive impact on the world.

Sam, on the other hand, is a teenager who loves art and spends all his free time painting. But he's been told that art is a risky career with no guaranteed success or income. However, while exploring potential career paths, he questions what kind of life he wants to lead. Does he want to chase a stable but possibly unfulfilling career, or does he want to take the risk and do what he loves, even if it's uncertain? After much thought, Sam decides to pursue his passion for art, understanding that his idea of a fulfilling life involves doing what he loves, even if it comes with its own set of challenges.

These stories show that asking big questions can help steer you towards a career that aligns with your core values, regardless of external pressures. It's about recognizing what's truly important to you and letting that guide your decisions.

FAQs

Q: I'm a teenager, and I don't know what I value most in life. How can I figure this out? A: That's absolutely normal. Start by exploring different activities, subjects, and experiences. Reflect on which ones make you feel most fulfilled, excited, or engaged. Jotting down your thoughts in a journal can also help.

Q: What if what I value most doesn't lead to a well-paying job? A: While income is an important factor, it's not the only one that contributes to job satisfaction. Many people find fulfillment in jobs that may not pay the most but align with their values and interests. However, it's essential to find a balance that ensures financial stability and personal fulfillment.

Q: My parents want me to follow a particular career path, but it doesn't align with what I value. What should I do? A: This is a common issue many teens face. Have an open conversation with your parents about your interests and values. Explain why you are drawn to a particular path. It may take some time, but most parents want their children to be happy and fulfilled.

Q: I have multiple values and interests. How do I decide which one to pursue? A: It's perfectly fine to have multiple interests. You don't necessarily have to pick just one. Many people find careers that combine several of their interests. Also, your interests can evolve over time. What's important is to stay open and flexible.

Big Questions 

Philosophy offers profound insights into the nature and purpose of work, as well as the process of choosing a career path. Here are some significant philosophical questions regarding work and career choice:

  1. What is the purpose of work? Is work primarily a means to make a living, or should it also provide a sense of fulfillment and purpose? This question delves into the intrinsic (e.g., satisfaction, personal growth) and extrinsic (e.g., income, status) motivations behind work.

  2. What constitutes a 'good' or 'fulfilling' job? This question invites reflection on the characteristics of a job that make it worthwhile. Is it about making a positive impact, achieving personal goals, gaining social status, or something else entirely?

  3. How does one's work relate to their identity? To what extent does what we do define who we are? This question explores the relationship between career choice and personal identity.

  4. Should passion or practicality drive career choices? This prompts a discussion on whether individuals should pursue what they love (passion) or what guarantees stability and income (practicality).

  5. What is the role of work in a balanced life? This question examines work-life balance and how much emphasis should be placed on work compared to other life aspects, such as family, leisure, and personal growth.

  6. What ethical responsibilities come with career choice? This explores the moral implications of our career choices. For instance, should we consider the environmental impact, societal implications, or ethical practices of the industries we choose to work in?

These questions don't have definitive answers, and different philosophers, cultures, and individuals may have different perspectives. Reflecting on them can help in aligning your career choices with your values, interests, and life goals.

Seven: Connect with Others

As teenagers exploring potential career paths after high school, it's essential to understand that the journey is not one you have to embark on alone. Engaging with others, whether through networking, mentorship, or simply conversation, can provide valuable perspectives and opportunities that you might not encounter otherwise.

In the working world, relationships often play a significant role. They can lead to opportunities such as internships, job offers, and collaborations. Also, they can provide you with first-hand insights into different careers. Speaking to individuals who are actively involved in fields you're interested in can give you a real-world understanding of what those careers entail, far beyond what you can learn from articles or job descriptions. It's not just about gathering information, but also about developing connections that could become increasingly important as you transition from school to the working world.

Furthermore, connecting with others who share similar interests can be a source of inspiration and motivation. They can encourage you to pursue your ambitions, even when faced with challenges and uncertainties. And importantly, these connections can provide emotional support and a sense of community.

Actionable Steps:

  1. Attend Events: Look for local or online events related to your fields of interest. These could be talks, workshops, meetups, or conferences. They are great places to meet people and learn new things.

  2. Reach Out to People: Don't hesitate to contact people who are working in areas that interest you. Many professionals are willing to share their experiences and advice with those who are genuinely interested.

  3. Join Clubs or Groups: Whether in school or in your community, find groups that align with your interests. They provide an opportunity to meet like-minded individuals and engage in related activities.

  4. Use Social Media: Platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, or even Instagram can be used to follow and interact with professionals, companies, and organizations in your fields of interest.

  5. Find a Mentor: If you can, find someone who is willing to take on a mentorship role for you. This relationship can provide you with ongoing advice, guidance, and support as you explore your career options.

Remember, as you start these interactions, be respectful of people's time and be genuine in your interest. Over time, you'll develop networking skills that will serve you throughout your career. Building relationships is a long-term process, but the connections you make now could open doors in the future.

Examples 

  1. James' Story: James had always loved computers but wasn't sure what he wanted to do after high school. He decided to join the computer club at school, where he met Sarah, a recent graduate who was working as a software engineer. Sarah was happy to share her experiences with James and even invited him to visit her at work. This gave James an insight into the world of software engineering, and he realized this was the path he wanted to pursue. He started learning programming languages and even got an internship through Sarah's company. His proactive approach to connecting with others opened up new doors for him in the tech world.

  2. Lily's Story: Lily was a high school student who loved art but was unsure of how to make a career out of her passion. She started attending local art exhibitions and workshops where she got the chance to meet artists and learn from their experiences. One day, she met an established artist who took her under his wing and became her mentor. This relationship gave her the confidence to apply to art school and helped her build a strong portfolio. Lily's active pursuit of connections within the art community shaped her career path in a significant way.

  3. Mohammed's Story: Mohammed was passionate about environmental issues but didn't know how to turn this into a career. He started following environmental activists and organizations on social media, engaging with their content, and reaching out to them with questions. Over time, he built a network of connections in the environmental sector. One of these connections led to an opportunity to volunteer at an environmental nonprofit after high school, which further confirmed his interest in this field and provided him with valuable experience for his future career.

  4. Jessica's Story: Jessica didn't know what she wanted to do after high school, but she knew she loved working with children. She reached out to a family friend who was a teacher and asked if she could shadow her at work for a day. The experience was eye-opening for Jessica, who was able to see first-hand what a day in the life of a teacher looked like. It gave her a realistic understanding of the profession, both its challenges and rewards, and helped her decide to pursue a career in education.

  5. Carlos' Story: Carlos had always loved music and dreamed of becoming a musician. He decided to join a local band where he met people who shared the same passion. He also reached out to successful musicians on social media and asked them about their experiences. One of them invited Carlos to his studio, where Carlos got a real-life glimpse into the music industry. The connections Carlos made not only inspired him but also gave him a clearer picture of what his future career could look like.

FAQs

Q: How do I start networking when I don't know anyone in the field I'm interested in?

A: Start by researching professionals in your field of interest on platforms like LinkedIn. Don't hesitate to reach out to them, expressing your interest, and ask if they could spare a few moments to chat about their career journey. Also, consider joining relevant clubs or societies at your school, which often host networking events and guest speaker sessions.

Q: What should I talk about when I reach out to professionals?

A: When you reach out to professionals, be honest about your position and interests. Share that you're a high school student exploring career options and that you're genuinely interested in their field. Ask about their career path and if they have any advice for someone starting out. Most people appreciate the interest and are willing to share their experiences.

Q: I'm an introvert, and networking seems really intimidating. How do I deal with this?

A: Remember, networking doesn't have to mean going to big events and meeting lots of new people at once. It can be as simple as having a one-on-one conversation. Try to approach it as a learning opportunity, and remember, the more you practice, the easier it will become.

Q: What if the people I reach out to don't respond or aren't helpful?

A: Don't be discouraged if not everyone you reach out to is responsive or helpful. It's a numbers game, and the more people you reach out to, the more likely you are to find someone willing to share their advice and experience. Keep trying and don't take any non-responses personally.

Charting Your Own Path

Embarking on your career journey as a teenager unsure of what to do after high school can feel daunting, but remember, it's a journey, not a destination. Along this journey, you're bound to uncover interests you didn't know you had, opportunities you never knew existed, and strengths you didn't know you possessed.

Remember to take small, consistent steps towards exploring your career options. Start a journal and engage with the prompts from this blog post. Read about different careers, reach out to people who can provide insights, join clubs or take courses related to your interests, and don't shy away from internships or part-time jobs to gain hands-on experience.

This is your journey, and every step you take is helping you build a career that aligns with your interests, values, and aspirations. Be patient, stay curious, and embrace the journey. The road to a fulfilling career is not always straight, but it is always worth traveling.

You Don't Have to Do This Alone: Join Careers That Matter

Choosing a career path at a young age can feel overwhelming. But remember, you don't have to do it alone. At Careers That Matter, we're committed to helping you navigate this critical stage in your life and beyond.

Comprehensive Online Program Specifically for Teenagers

Our comprehensive three-month online program is designed specifically for teenagers. Over this period, we develop a unique career plan based on each teenager's personality, talents, and values. But our support doesn't end there. We continue to guide and assist you for a decade, helping you adapt your plan as you and the world evolve.

Evidence-Based Career Guidance

Our approach is rooted in evidence. We've interviewed over 200 top leaders with meaningful careers and reinforced their insights with academic research and thought leadership. This wealth of knowledge has been distilled into an accessible program for teenagers, so you get advice that's practical, proven, and effective.

Focus on Meaningful Careers of the Future

We specialize in careers that contribute meaningfully to society and will remain relevant well into the future. By aligning your unique strengths, values, and passions with these emerging opportunities, we can guide you towards a fulfilling career that you'll love.

Take the First Step

Your journey starts with understanding yourself better. To help with that, we offer a free career quiz for high school students. It's a simple yet insightful tool that can start you on the path to finding a career that genuinely suits you.

As you work through the process of choosing your high school subjects and thinking about your future career, remember: this is your journey, but we're here to guide and support you every step of the way. Sign up for our online program today, and start shaping a future that's uniquely yours.




More Resources

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Careers That Matter provides online programs to teenagers across the globe. The organisation is based in Melbourne Australia. We have students from across Australia including Sydney, NSW 2000, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Brisbane, QLD 4000, Perth, WA 6000, Adelaide, SA 5000, Hobart, TAS 7000, Canberra, ACT 2600, Darwin, NT 0800. We also take students from The United Kingdom including London, Europe, and the United States including New York , Canada, New Zealand including Auckkland and Wellington, and Asia including Singapore and Malaysia.