As we near the end of the school year, one question that often comes up is how high school students can best use their summer in preparation for the college application process. And while the answers can vary based on what grade the student is in and what his or her particular interests are, one option I like to advocate for with rising high school seniors is career exploration.
Maybe it comes in the form of a job or an internship. Maybe you don’t necessarily need the paycheck, and you can secure a long-term volunteer experience or multiple job shadows. Either way, I love the idea of students starting to explore where their interests and skills may lead them.
You’re good with numbers but you have no idea what it would be like to be an accountant or an actuary. Maybe you don’t even know what an actuary does.
You’ve thought about physical therapy and athletic training but you really don’t know the difference between the two.
Perhaps, as a young child, you were always building things with your LEGOs but you’re not sure if that interest would translate into a career as a mechanical engineer, a civil engineer or a construction manager.
Maybe you’ve had a lot of ideas about what you might do with your life but you’ve never taken the time to tell anyone, let alone spend some time researching them for yourself.
If any of this sounds familiar, then your upcoming summer is a great way to get to work figuring out just who you are going to be and why it’s going to matter.
How do you get started? First, start talking to your parents, friends, a favorite teacher, or your school counselor about what you’re interested in. Talk to them about some of these ideas you’ve had and that you’d like to explore them further. Find out who they know who might do something similar to what you’re describing. Then, ask to be introduced to this person even if it’s just over the phone. When you do connect with this person, be prepared to talk about what you’re interested in and that you would appreciate learning more about what they do, how they got around to doing it and what they would recommend to a young, interested person like you.
This is called an informational interview. Essentially, you are interviewing the person and trying to learn as much as you can. Once you’ve done that, asking about a job shadow or how you can get involved or learn more is an easy next step. And while they may not have room to hire you, if you can volunteer some hours or shadow a couple times, you may just find out a whole lot more about just how interested you are in this particular field.
And that’s what career exploration is all about – seeking out information, contacts and experience to help inform your opinion about what you want to do with college and your life.
If you would like some assistance with your college search, contact me today for a free 60-minute consultation.