Tuesday, February 7, 2017

So Many Choices

Last week we held our annual sophomore visitation. I always enjoy this day and being able to speak with the sophomores and asking them about their future plans and interest. I find it interesting that when asked about what career they are looking into, a lot of them aren't really sure yet. I wouldn't expect them to be settled on their career at this point in their life but I would hope they would be able to tell me their interests and things that excite them.  Trying to decide what you want to be when you grow up can be difficult.  It isn’t exactly realistic to think that you – 14 – 18 year old students – would know the precise career that will make you happy and fulfilled in the future.  The data on how many careers a person will hold in their lifetime is difficult to track, but most statistics indicate that on average you will have 7 different jobs in your adult working life.  It seems pretty clear to me that most of those adults never imagined changing jobs so many times and if they couldn’t predict what job they would want in their careers as adults it isn’t necessarily realistic to think that you will know exactly what you want to do when you are still in high school.

You don’t know about fields that you haven’t been exposed to yet – how could you know if you’d like Precision Machining or Health Careers when those are areas you haven’t studied.  That is why it is important to take opportunities to be curious, to explore, to learn, to ask questions, to observe and to find out more about anything which interests you.  Seek opportunities to shadow, interview career professionals, volunteer, or work a part time job – even if it isn’t in a field even remotely interesting to you because it will still help you to learn workforce skills.

What you can know though are the characteristics and skills that YOU possess which are YOUR strengths and could help you create happiness and fulfillment in your selected jobs.  These personal strengths do not rely on a particular job and they will cross over to any jobs that you have throughout your lifetime.

So how do you figure out your strengths?  You can always do self-reflection about what you believe to be your greatest strengths.  You can ask your family members and friends about what they believe to be your greatest strengths.  Or you could do assessments about your strengths.  Gallup has a book called Strengths Finder 2.0 which has an online assessment that allows you to complete a questionnaire and ultimately gives you your top themes about your individual strengths.  This information can then be utilized to help provide insight into the types of career fields which could work with your strengths.  Unfortunately there is a cost for the book and the assessment, but if it is an area of interest it might be worth considering.  Additionally there are free online assessments to find personal strengths such as this one. Click here

Ultimately, I hope that you see career searching as a fun and exciting opportunity rather than a stressful task to be added to your “to do” list.  Remember, every day you are preparing yourself for your future.  You are learning and applying skills that will help you for the rest of your life like listening, organization, problem solving, critical thinking, analysis, time management, taking personal responsibility, completing quality work, meeting deadlines, working with others (including those you might not like) and so many more.  There is no doubt that you have a bright future ahead and you will be prepared no matter what (or how many) career(s) you have in the future.

Here are some additional career related articles that might interest you:

Instead of focusing on passion, focus on consistency

There is good money to be made in non-college careers

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