What activities do you do? What are your plans after high school? What do you want to study? What profession do you want to pursue after college? Every high school student faces these same daunting questions from curious adults and teachers. But how does one get even the slightest idea of what they want to do in the future? High school provides students the perfect opportunity to explore potential career paths and find their future calling through classes, clubs, programs, jobs, and internships.
High school students can utilize classes offered at their high school to explore potential career options. In order to graduate, many schools require students to take specific classes and core credits. However, students should choose their classes wisely. Don’t choose classes based on what your friends will be taking; choose what seems most interesting to you. If you are interested in a class, talk to students who have taken the course you are interested in to get a student perspective in addition to talking it over with a parent, teacher, and/or counselor. Your schedule does not have to be heavy in the classes you are interested in, but a little bit of exposure to different career options can help you better envision what you will be doing after senior year.
Another great way to gain exposure to different options in high school is by joining clubs and programs that are run through your school. Most schools have many clubs, catering to different niches, so everyone can find a club that suits them. Just like picking classes, join clubs that interest you! If you are interested in STEM, groups to check out include programming clubs, Robotics Club, Math Club, and Marine Biology Club. If you are looking at business, check out DECA, Women in Business, and Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). Mock Trial, Debate, and Model UN are great places to start if you are interested in government or law. To learn more about the clubs at your school, talk to a teacher or counselor to find clubs that interest you. If you can’t find a club you want to join, start your own! It is likely that there are other students who share the same interests as you, and would love to join. This is a great way to show leadership and initiative within your school.
Of course, high school is very busy for students, but jobs and internships offer great hands-on experience. Knowledge on a subject is great, but the experience of applying the knowledge shows future employers that you can apply yourself. Apply to jobs/internships the summer before your junior and senior year to start building a resume. If you don’t know where to begin, smaller scale projects can be great ways to start, such as planning a summer fundraiser or running a social media account. Shadowing or interning a professional that has a career that interests you is also a great way to learn more about the career path. Regardless of what you do, make sure the experience is something you want to try and can dedicate your time and undivided attention towards. Real jobs and internship want students to be accountable and responsible.
What is the next step?
With exploration in high school, new and different post-secondary options may be presented to you. 4-year and 2-year college programs can be great for degrees in certain fields. Some schools may have emphasis on different subject areas, such as liberal arts and STEM schools. By having an idea of what you are looking to major in, college options can be presented in a different light. The traditional college route isn’t necessarily perfect for everyone’s interests. Gap years are great options for students as they can enroll into school and take a year to travel, volunteer, or work in an internship/fellowship. Some students start working straight out of high school and do not plan to get a college degree because it is not necessary for their career path.
High school provides students the perfect opportunity to discover their passions and future career options. Your class schedule in high school should take advantage of the resources your school offers by taking classes that interest you and give you exposure to different career paths. Getting involved, big or small, is also a key way to learn about career paths. By joining clubs and programs within your community, you surround yourself with people of similar interests and can participate in activities outside of the classroom. Real-world work experience and internships also are great building blocks in the foundation of your growing career. These are valuable times of experience and growth in a field that the classroom does not provide. All these experiences open new doors for possible career paths and can help you make chose the best path after high school.