Considering I went to college with no idea of what I wanted to do, I spend a lot of time talking with my students about how they will make the most of college. I don’t expect them to have their life’s plan mapped out and ready to be laminated, but I do expect that they are ready to talk about their VIPS and how they can help direct them toward a major and, ultimately, a career path.
However, talking about career ideas will only get you so far.
So, here’s a few ideas on how you can get past talking and actually get into trying on mode:
Let’s say you’ve been thinking about being a lawyer but you don’t know what kind of law you would like to practice. Well, there’s no shortage of lawyers in any town or city so start calling up law firms and ask if any of the lawyers would be interested in being interviewed about what they do. Go in with a lot of great questions and you can learn a lot very quickly.
While an informational interview can help you gather information, a job shadow is a great way to try on a profession for a day or two. Staying with the lawyer example, reach out to your family and friends (otherwise known as networking) to see if they know any lawyers. Then, ask for an introduction where you can ask about shadowing for a day or two to learn more about what they do.
If the job shadow goes well and you find yourself even more interested in being a lawyer than you did before you started exploring, volunteering some of your time now to help out around the office can be a great way to learn more and, ultimately, earn an internship, or part-time job later on. As a volunteer the tasks will be small, but the overall experience, interaction and networking can be incredibly valuable.
Summer Programs on College Campuses
They don’t come cheap, but some colleges host summer programs for high school students to explore career paths more in-depth. For aspiring lawyers, the Penn Pre-Law Summer Program lasts for an entire month and includes tuition, housing, meals, materials and weekend trips. A program like this should only be pursued if the previous three options have been exhausted.
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