Starting in preschool, students are asked the same question year after year - what do you want to be when you grow up? No matter what the answer to that question is, it is important for students to have a general idea of the careers they would like to have.
While middle and high school might seem too early to start planning for jobs that are five or more years away, doing so can help students stay focused on school and make choices that can help their future careers. The following are career planning tips that can help students prepare for the future, even while they are still in school.
1. Explore your interests
High school is the perfect time to explore your different areas of interest to see what future careers you might be interested in when you enter the working world. By looking at different jobs and fields now, you can narrow down your choices and focus on one or two potential career paths; this makes it easier when choosing classes, applying for jobs and internships, or picking extracurricular activities.
2. Shadow a professional
Once you have narrowed down your interest into one to two potential fields, look into opportunities for shadowing a professional in that field. Following someone in a career for a day can give you a better idea if a job is really for you; it’s better to find out blood makes you squeamish before you start working towards a pre-med degree. Likewise, shadowing a professional in your chosen field can provide a valuable future networking opportunity.
3. Find a job or internship
Finding a job or internship in your field of interest can help you develop professional connections and gain valuable experience. Not only can this help you in your future career, but it can also help you stand out during the college admissions process. “Because many students apply to college after high school without having completed an internship, your experience over the summer can help you stand out from the crowd of students," said Robin Richards, CEO of Internships.com. "The admissions committee will be able to see that you are motivated, inquisitive and serious about success from the fact that you used your break to work and gain professional experience.”
4. Get a head start on the future
Having a strong idea of what you want your future career to look like can help you get a head start on the future. Planning and goal setting can prevent multiple major changes in college, saving valuable time and money. Likewise, a strong career plan can help you skip career mistakes and be better prepared for the path ahead. “The sooner you understand what you do and don't want to do for a career, the easier it will be to make the right career decisions,” says Dan Schawbel, author of "Promote Yourself". “In high school there's no pressure to pick a major or a career so it's the best time to experiment.”
Planning for your future career doesn’t have to wait until you get to college. By starting to career plan while in school, students can put themselves ahead and be better prepared for college - as well as their future jobs.