career planning: start early

Posted : March 10, 2008
Last Updated : September 30, 2013

career planning: start early

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.

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
  • Career fairs
  • On-campus interviews
  • Online resume referrals
  • Job listings

For more information about career planning, please visit your high school counselor or the Career Services department at your college.


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