5 Tips for Pursuing Your Passions and Building Successful Career Pathways
Previous generations have sent the majority of their high school graduates straight to the career field while common trends in many school districts encourage high school graduates to apply to colleges. However, the movement is shifting as students and families are seeing the value in open-ended options and many are making decisions based on an individual rather than trends. For a while, it was thought that college was the only way to get a job that paid well and be able to provide for a family one day. Many students and adults alike have slowly realized that isn’t always the case. While college graduates, tend to make more than those without college degrees, there’s no guarantee that a college education will give you a higher income or more job security in a rapidly changing industries.
For a number of reasons, many high school students today are making principled, thoughtful decisions to enter chosen career fields immediately after high school. Some students follow their passions and interests and work towards a career while in high school. Others tend to struggle more in school and feel that entering the workforce is a better use of their time and talent than attending school for another several years. Still, others desire to earn an income immediately after high school and wish to do so in a specific career. No matter what category you fall into, transitioning from high school to a career can be challenging, but we’ve put together some tips and career ideas to help you make the shift as easily as possible.
Tip 1: Reflect on Your Passions, Interests, and Skills
Who says you can't have a career doing something you love? Not everyone is fortunate enough to do something they love for a living, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try! What are you passionate about? What are your interests? What do you love to do for fun? What are you naturally gifted in? Think about what you truly enjoy and what would never seem like work, and look into career fields that would allow you to do exactly that. When you first start thinking about a future career, it can be overwhelming when you see all your options, but thinking about what you are good at and makes you happy is a great place to start!
Tip 2: Get Involved in Clubs, Organizations, and Volunteer Opportunities
This is especially important for students who think they may want to enter the workforce upon graduating. Freshman and sophomores should explore what their schools and local communities have to offer that interest them so they can gain experience in chosen fields or industries. Even if it’s volunteering at a local recreation center or church, doing what interests you will help you gain some insight into what career fields you may or may not enjoy in the future. Student or volunteer clubs at local YMCA or Boys and Girls Clubs of America organizations can help you pinpoint your interests and with a little research, you can find scheduled beach cleanup opportunities through your local Surfrider Foundation chapter organizations.
Tip 3: Gain Real-World Experience
If possible, get a job in your chosen field or industry. For example, if you have an interest in skateboarding, and want to pursue a career in business management, marketing or sales, try to get a retail or customer service position at a local restaurant, coffee shop or retail store. If you're interested in the health science industry, volunteer at a a local hospital or try to get a job at a nearby nursing home. Talk to your family and friends. Talk to your friends’ families to ask if anyone or someone they know has a connection to a professional in the field that you're interested in. If you don't get the response or job you're looking for, be sure to ask about any volunteer opportunities. The most important thing is to start looking and don't give up searching. It can take a while to land a great job, so the sooner you start, the better. Knowing your market and what positions are available in a particular industry may help you to narrow down or re-focus your search.
Tip 4: Vary and Explore Your Coursework
If your school has electives or career courses that interest you, explore your options and take them! You may take challenging courses that are not related to your interests, but it could also turn into a future career! If you’re intrigued by a digital media website, a business management course or an Emergency Medical Responder course, just take it. Oftentimes, classes like these will spark a passion for a particular field and they can even connect you with local professionals who will be great to have in your personal network one day. Even if you think you know early on what you want to do, take some varied classes to explore other options and keep your mind open to all possibilities.
Tip 5: Never Stop Learning!
Even if you don’t plan on going to college, keep your quest for knowledge active well beyond your schooling years. Take online classes, earn industry certifications, keep reading, watch videos, talk to successful people, and just never stop learning! If you feel led to continue your education at any point or in any way, just do it. If you have the opportunity to take a class through your job or get a certification, just do it. Keep learning and reaching to gain more knowledge and you’ll continue to make yourself valuable to everyone and every company you come into contact with.
Whether you’re a middle school student or high school senior, it’s never too early or too late to think about pursuing your passions and turning them into successful careers. Focus on the tips above and do whatever you can to prepare and transition your passion into to a career pathway seamless, enjoyable, and successful. Remember to talk to your families, teachers, academic coaches, counselors, or any other trusted adult to get support, assistance, and encouragement as you build your career pathway out of your passions and interests.
Education can feel like a long road to some students, but it’s an essential road to take for anyone looking to gain the necessary skills after high school. One of B.E.S.T. Academy Charter School's foundational goals is providing students with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed academically while also preparing them socially and emotionally for successful college and career pathways. When students don’t know where to start, we help them understand what they need to do in order to turn their passions and interests into achieving their career paths.