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Career exploration can be a daunting process for teens or just about anyone—whether starting out or careering for a while. Regardless of where you may be in the process, the good news is that it doesn’t have to feel overwhelming at any point. The truth is there are many ways to create support for yourself in your career exploration. What’s more, these self-supportive efforts can have a positive ripple effect that leads to valuable support from others. Here are three key steps you can take to feel better supported on your careering journey.
Support Yourself First
Be sure to approach your exploration with the right mindset. Be positive, and have a sense of curiosity, willingness to learn, and openness about what you discover. Also know that you may encounter a few surprises along the way, but it’s all to learn more about yourself. For example, you may have thought being a nurse is perfect for you. Then you learn more about their day-to-day work through research, informational interviews, or a shadowing experience. You quickly discover it’s not what you imagined.Career exploration can be a daunting process for teens or just about anyone—whether starting out or careering for a while. Regardless of where you may be in the process, the good news is that it doesn’t have to feel overwhelming at any point.Click To Tweet
This is a good time to consider what you did and didn’t like, then shift your careering focus accordingly. Instead, you may realize working as a pharmacist or practice administrator appeals more to you, based on what you’ve learned. This kind of trust and belief in yourself does wonders: it allows you to be open to
Engage with School Resources
Take the next step in supporting yourself by engaging with school resources, such as clubs, extracurricular activities, and jobs. First, be sure to understand what your interests are and know your schedule. Next, check out clubs, teams, or associations and also explore your career center. You can learn what you love to do and are good at by attending summer camps; working in a variety of jobs; or volunteering in various organizations. But always be mindful not to take on more than your schedule can allow. After all, schoolwork is the priority and there’s no need to overwhelm yourself by overscheduling. Afterward, you’ll want to ask yourself what you liked most about your experiences and the work you did, then write down your responses. Your answers can provide insight into what type of career may be right for you.
Tap into Your Network
Another often-overlooked way of supporting yourself is by connecting and openly communicating with your network. Your network is a web of people you’re connected to in some way. It can consist of just about anyone, including family, friends, teachers, classmates, people from your last job, neighbors, and past summer camp counselors. Others may be members of your online interest group, friends of a friend you’ve met, acquaintances from summer camp, or contacts you met studying abroad. Social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn can help you connect with and manage relationships with a wider circle of people. And remember to be careful and safe always.
Your parents/guardians can be your greatest careering allies. They have insight into their career fields and industries. They also may have contacts, leads, or other information for possible volunteer, internship, shadowing, or summer job opportunities in a wide range of job areas. Many first jobs come from a friend who refers you to their employer at a restaurant, retail store, newspaper route, babysitting job, or their parent’s company. School personnel like guidance counselors can offer good advice on the do’s and don’ts of getting into college, as well as landing internships and jobs. There are even companies that contact guidance counselors for a list of qualified candidates. If you’ve had a job, share your career interests with former co-workers and supervisors and ask if they know of any job leads. Many people are eager to help students start out on their career paths. Share your areas of interest and study with them to see if they have any leads or can get the word out for you.
So you're a high school or college student who thinks you know what you want to do with the rest of your life. Or maybe you don't have the first clue about your future. In either case, Tamara S. Raymond's Careering: The Pocket Guide to Exploring Your Future Career should be at the top of your reading list.
About the Author:
Tamara S. Raymond is a certified leadership coach and career strategist dedicated to helping professionals reach their maximum potential, and young people get on the right career path so they can make a difference. Careering: The Pocket Guide to Exploring Your Future Career is Tamara’s first book. It is available as a paperback, e-book and audiobook.