High school and college students today have a big decision ahead of them - should they begin looking into a career path early on, or should they wait until the latter part of college to decide what they want to do? In past years, it was easier for students to take a more leisurely course of study, and plan their future along the way. They were encouraged to major in something open ended, such as Liberal Arts, and not even think about what field they wanted to go in to until they were near graduation - or even after graduation. Today, there is a much stronger sense of sense of urgency in this regard. Students today need to be able to hit the ground running once they graduate, and to be able to reach this goal they must be prepared for their future at an earlier age than past generations.
Today, high school students have to think about what career direction they would like to pursue. They should look into volunteer opportunities in this field and begin to network to establish connections in the field. College students should determine their majors and take courses in their major area early on in order to complete their degree in a timely manner. They should try to find internships and begin building their resumes for when they enter the workforce. In the past, students had the luxury of graduating college, then taking time off for travel before beginning graduate school for another three to four years – all before they even considered looking for a job. In today’s highly competitive job market, students have to be focused earlier and work toward reaching their goal upon graduation.
College is an expensive proposition for many. Aside from the time and effort students put into obtaining a college education, the cost can be overwhelming, and leave students and parents burdened with loans for years after. One way to resolve this issue is for students to explore career interest and career aptitude during high school. A qualified career coach, particularly one that specializes in working with high school and college students, can administer and evaluate career aptitude tests or career interest inventories and then explore career directions with students. When students have a career direction, they can create a career roadmap and focus their efforts on this path. For many careers, a two year college may actually be a better choice than a four year college. For some career paths, vocational or technical schools offer a more focused education. Of course many career paths do require a traditional four year college education, and some that even require graduate school. However, once a student creates a career roadmap at an early stage, it will be easier to have much of their effort will be focused in the right direction from the get go. Time, effort, and money won’t be lost. If a student has a definite career direction before entering college, he or she can work with an advisor to map out a course of study and take required courses and electives in that career direction. One major benefit of this is that most students with a career roadmap can graduate in four years instead of five – a growing trend for students who have not planned ahead as well.
Given today’s economy and the competitive job market, students need every advantage they can get. With a head start on a career path beginning in high school, students can begin to focus their efforts throughout high school and continue during college. Networking, volunteer work, and summer jobs will help with resume building. Students with a sense of career direction during high school and early college will be in a much better position to obtain a job after graduation.
This article was written by Dr. Paulette Nadel, HS/College Career Coach
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