Career planning is a process that should begin in 8th or 9th grade. By starting the process early, you will have ample time to research a variety of career opportunities and learn about your likes and dislikes as you grow and experience new ideas. However, you should keep in mind that it's never too late to start career planning even if you are already in college. Use these tips to help in planning your career as you go throughout high school and college.
Get to Know Yourself
Starting in high school and continuing through college, you should take a variety of classes, engage in several extracurricular activities, and work part-time jobs, so you can become familiar with your likes and dislikes. Pay attention to how you feel in each situation. Which classes do you love and which ones do you despise? Do you enjoy working in a team setting or would you rather work alone? Do you like working with the public at your part-time job? By expanding your horizon in and out of the classroom, you will become more self-aware and learn where your strengths and interests lie.
Research Majors and Careers
You have an abundance of majors and careers from which to choose. If you don't research all your options, you are only hurting yourself. Use the Internet, the library, your mentors, etc. to find out as much as possible about the many different majors and careers available. To help you get started, refer to the What Can I Do with this Major? section of this website.
Participate in Job Shadowing
Job shadowing is great for middle school, high school, and college students alike. Many middle and high schools work with organizations (i.e. Junior Achievement) to allow students to participate in job shadowing at various companies across the nation. Many colleges also have formal job shadowing programs where students are matched with alumni who work in fields that interest them. Take advantage of these learning opportunities so you can observe the workplace atmosphere and get a first-hand view of the daily on-goings. The information that you gather through your job shadowing experience will help you immensely when deciding upon a career.
Use the Kuder® Career Planning System
The Kuder Career Planning System features three components to help individuals of all ages explore careers, plan for college, and prepare for the world of work: Kuder® Galaxy for elementary students; Kuder® Navigator for middle school and high school students; and Kuder® Journey for postsecondary students and adult populations. Beginning in middle school, this planning system will help you select one or more career paths to explore by matching your interests, skills, and work values to education and career options. Through the Kuder Career Planning System, you can create and continually access your own lifelong career portfolio and update career information as your skills and experience expand. Kuder systems are offered in conjunction with a number of state-sponsored programs throughout the United States. If your state is not listed here and you would like to utilize the system, please visit kuder.com or call the Kuder Customer Support line at (877) 999-6227 to see if you have access to the system through your school, workforce center, or other agency/organization.
Utilize Career Services in College
Once you get to college or if you are already in college, be sure to take advantage of the free services offered by the school's Career Services department. Here is a list of some of the services your college may offer to help with the career planning process:
Self-assessment and career exploration
Resume and cover letter assistance
Online resume referrals
For more information about career planning, please visit your high school counselor or the Career Services department at your college.