Most high school students feel the pressure to have their lives figured out before graduation. Decisions such as what career path to follow and what organizations to work with need to be made with care. The reason isn’t far-fetched. This decision phase is a defining moment of your life and as such, should be carefully planned. While the process might not be as easy, there are steps to make it less daunting. Before you start exploring your career options, let’s take a look at a few things to put in place to make the journey easier

1) Access yourself:

Who are you? What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing the most? Answering these questions will help in choosing a career that matches your skills and areas of interest. To fully assess yourself, here are some questions to explore:

a) What subjects and activities do you enjoy studying in school and why?

b) Which of these subjects/activities have you excelled at?

c) If you’re to choose your favorite activity, what would it be?

Self-assessment will help you make informed decisions about yourself. In addition, it thoroughly examines your personality, interest, aptitude, and values.

2) Take career personality tests:

A clearer understanding of yourself is essential to your career journey. While career tests might not necessarily dictate what career you should venture into, they can help you gain some clarity. Tests help you access your abilities and personality in a way that will guide you towards a career path. A career aptitude test will help in narrowing down your career choices and provides you with options compatible with your personality, skills, interests, and values.

Although not all career tests are scientifically validated, they do provide useful insight into what type of jobs you should consider.

3) Make a list of career options:

Once you identify your strengths and weaknesses, you’re able to come up with various career choices. There is no rule that states you can be good at only one career path. Several options exist out there for you to choose from. Make a list of fields you’re interested in learning about – aim for at least ten career choices.

Once you make this list, research each of the career choices and eliminate those that don’t resonate with you. With time, you will be left with options that are most suitable for you.

4) Research:

Once you narrow down your career choices, it’s time to go all out with your research. Find out what it takes to build a career in whatever field you choose. Here are some tips to help with your research:

a) Create a list of professionals who work in your prospective field. If you’ve got none, ask around – your contacts, family, counselor, or college expert.

b ) Fix informational interviews with people who have working experience in your chosen career. They will be able to provide you with useful information about the career path.

c) See if you can shadow some of these professionals for a day or two to gain some first-hand experience.

d) If possible, apply for an internship position to gain more experience in your career field.

Upon completion of your research, you’ll be able to decide whether or not a particular work field is the best fit for you. However, if your research doesn’t yield results as expected, don’t fuss. Keep researching till you figure things out.

5) Build Your Network:

While researching can help you put things in perspective, getting out there makes the path even clearer. With extensive networking, you get to meet with industry insiders who can advise you based on personal experience on the job. Ask them all the questions you have – what a typical workday is like, job security, compensation, general requirements for the job, e.t.c.

Attending networking functions is a great way to build your network. Another way is by using LinkedIn to build your connections. All of these networks put together will help in your career journey.

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