Have you looked around you and wondered about all the jobs it takes for the world to be so amazing? There’s that nozzle that makes the soda come out of the machine all fizzy. Hundreds of people resource the materials for power lines, build them, ship them, and then string them up so you can charge your laptop and phone. There are people who build the molds for your AirPods, design the pattern for your sneaker soles, and market the hair gel you love. Every single person had to learn how to be great at their job. And you can too, when you start career planning now, while you’re still in high school.
Below are 5 steps to career planning for high schoolers, to get you to that job you want in the best way possible.
1. Start with the end in mind
When you’re trying to figure out your path forward, you may find it easiest to work backwards from your end goal. If you want to run your own bake shop, you know there are certain skills you’ll have to learn and tasks at which to become proficient. The same is true if you want to be a metal fabricator and build bridges, or to be an environmental technician who specializes in public health. Each of these jobs has a fairly specific career path to follow — all of which you can start planning now.
Know how much education you need
When you’ve settled on the career path you want to take, talk to people who are currently in that career. How did they get there? Would they have taken a different path? Do they know of other ways to arrive at the same destination? These people can serve as a great resource to you as you plan your next steps.
Do some research and find out what schools specialize in the type of education you need. Is there a school that makes each step a bit easier? Depending on your course of study and the school you choose, you may even be able to skip a Master’s Degree and move straight into a PhD after your undergrad.
Inquire about internships and when you can take them. This experience may shorten the path to your end goal as well.
Know the best place to learn
You may already know the type of company you’d like to join. Find out if they have an educational preference or if they choose graduates from one school above others.
Research the opportunities each school on your list provides and consider which will get you closest to your end goal. Is there one that will give you greater experience in your prospective job field? Employers appreciate education, but they also highly value experience.
You may be better served with a non-traditional education. Mentorships and apprenticeships may be a more efficient route than a 4-year college. (Learn the benefits of mentorship here.) The military trains across a wide swath of careers and gives you both leadership and career experience. Explore what these options could look like for you.
Learn what you can do now to make it all easier
Take time to understand the ways you learn the best, and then see if you can find a career path that matches your specific learning style. Learn your unique strengths and how to use them well. Talk to your mentors and school counselors to gain perspective. There are likely things you can do right now to make your career planning path even more effective.
Enjoy the process
Above all, enjoy learning, discovering, and dreaming about your career path. There’s nothing as exciting as a pocketful of opportunity and a heart full of hope. Learning how to make these hopes and dreams actionable is the very best gift you can give yourself right now.
If you’re unsure of your next best steps for career planning, contact us. We have a great mentorship program for all ages.