If you’re in high school, or a parent of a high school student, then you know the question about what you’re going to do when you get out of college. There’s a good chance you’ve given this some thought. However, the question becomes, can you really pick your career while you’re still in college? Some would say yes, and others would say no. Either way, before you pick a career, there are some questions to ask yourself.
- Is it permanent? According to a report used by Human Resource departments, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will tell you that there has never been a definitive study on the number of jobs a person holds over the course of their life. (“Key Statistics for HR Professionals, Changing Jobs and Careers.” Clear Management Human Resources Consulting. Clear Management, 2010. Web. 22 Sep 2010.) However, they recently completed a report looking at the job changes happening in baby-boomers while between the ages of 18 and 42. The answer to career permanence, based on this 2008 report, is no. The individuals in this study changed jobs nearly 10 times on average during their years studied. So, you may not stick with this career, but you do have to start somewhere.
- Will I be operating out of my gifts? Careers, like anything else, are most agreeable when we enjoy the work involved. Usually, we enjoy the work when we are good at it and can do it without undue stress or effort. While this seems simple enough, many high school students focus on the money they want to make, rather than the skills they are good at, their gifts, and they end up in high-paying jobs that make them miserable. Assess your natural gifts and align your career options in those areas. By the time you are in high school, you will be aware of some of your natural gifts, and getting input from family members is a fantastic idea.
- Will it meet my needs? Beyond the money that we make in our careers, we have needs for things like teamwork or independence, routines or variety, cozy offices or open roads, etc. You are probably learning your needs right now, but it is important to begin asking yourself things like, “Will I be happy in an office environment?” “Do I want to work on team projects?” The answers to these questions will help to define the types of careers you consider.
- Can I grow in my knowledge? At some point, every adult determines that they need a change, thus the changing jobs rate, or that they need to learn new skills. Consider whether or not the careers you are considering will also allow you to learn new skills and be refreshed with new opportunities along the way, or whether the career will be limited until such time as you change fields. Either way, you will most likely experience a 2-4 year curve of learning time while you adjust to a new career field down the road, or learn and implement new skills. Just be certain that you have options to increase your knowledge.
These very basic questions are just the starting point. However, while still in high school, they are an excellent place to begin picking your career. You may not always stick with the one that you pick first, but you will find that the one you select for your first working years will have much to do with your future acquaintances, opportunities, and circles of influence, so it’s important to start off in areas that refresh you, invigorate you, and emphasize your strengths.