It can be difficult for high school students to imagine the rest of your life. And here’s a secret: It can be difficult for 30-, 40-, and 50-year-olds too! Human beings are not static creatures. We change all the time, and what you picture yourself doing ten years from now might not appeal to you at all in five years.
But of course, it can help to develop some idea of a potential career path before you exit high school. No, it’s not set in stone, but having some idea of your future can help you choose a college and a major. So with that idea in mind, consider these nine steps as you plot the course of your future.
Don’t limit yourself. Don’t try to reduce all of your options to a single career choice just yet. Write down all of your strongest talents and interests, and start there.
Research options related to your favorite subjects. What are your favorite subjects in high school? Those are jumping-off points for choosing a college major, so research careers related to those areas of study.
Research options related to your talents or special interests. Maybe some of your favorite interests or hobbies aren’t encompassed by a high school class. That’s okay; there might still be a career option related to areas of study that you haven’t yet explored.
Stay on top of news about the job market. Look into emerging fields and hot jobs. Those are the ones that will probably be hiring when you get out of college.
Consider other values and/or your lifestyle priorities. Some people are so focused on career that they would go just about anywhere, and do just about anything, to be successful. Others prioritize things like location, travel (or not), hours, vacation time, flexibility, and so on. Consider the lifestyle you imagine yourself living in the future, and select a field that allows for the work-life balance you hope to achieve.
Explore current job listings. Yes, things could change in a few years, but exploring job listings now can give you an idea of what employers value and where the good jobs are located.
Talk to contacts in various fields. If your dad’s friend or your mom’s cousin works in a particular field of interest, strike up a conversation with them. Learn as much as you can from other people’s first-hand experience and advice.
Contact businesses and inquire about visits. Ask if industries of interest offer outreach programs for high school students, or if you could schedule a tour to learn more.
Apply for part time jobs related to the field. Get some experience under your belt now, by applying for part time jobs related the field you’re considering. It will look good on college applications, too.