6 Tips for Helping High School Students Choose a Career Path
by Jessica Teper on Jul 24, 2023
Choosing a career path after high school can be pretty daunting for teenagers. For most of their lives, they're focused on the present. Getting good grades, having fun with their friends, excelling in their extracurriculars, etc etc. Then, almost overnight, they have to start thinking about their future and what they will do for the rest of their lives.
There are so many career options, and the fear of making the wrong choice can be overwhelming. And even if your student knows what career direction they want to pursue, how can they know if it's the right choice before trying it out?
This decision-making process can be stressful, but solid career guidance for high school students can make it much more straightforward. If you're the parent of a secondary school student trying to choose a career track (or a student yourself), this article is here to help. The following tips will walk you through the process of helping high school students choose a career path, step by step.
1. Do Some Personal Reflection
Before your student can decide what they want to do for their career, they need to know themselves. Encourage them to think about what they're interested in, what they value, and what they're good at. If they like science, ask them what they enjoy most about it. Is it the lab work? The research? A little soul-searching will help them figure out what kind of job could work for them in the long run.
2. Seek Career Guidance Resources
Most high schools have career guidance counselors who can offer advice, answer questions, and help them explore different options and choose a career direction. Ask one of your student's teachers if you need help connecting with your school's guidance counselor.
There are also plenty of online resources that offer career guidance for teenagers. For example, we've developed a custom career guide to help students identify their top strengths, interests, ideal work environments, work style, and potential career paths.
3. Consider The Academic Pathway
So they've settled on a career direction, but are they on the right academic path to get them there? For example, to become a psychologist, they need a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's or doctoral degree. Choosing the right academic path in high school will ensure they have the proper educational foundation for their future career. Too often, students try to create the academic path without knowing where they are headed, which just makes the entire process harder.
Trade schools, community colleges, and universities have different options to explore, so ensure they do their research and confirm that the programs align with your goals. You can also ask their teachers or mentors for advice on which academic pathways make sense for their desired career.
4. Network, Network, Network
Help your student build connections with people who can guide them along their career journey. You can start by contacting your network to see if you know any professionals in the fields they're interested in.
Most professionals are happy to share their experiences and give advice, which can help them learn about the realities of different careers, industry trends, and possible opportunities. Networking can also help them access internships, job opportunities, and mentorship, boosting their career exploration experience.
5. Dive into Practical Experience
Theoretical knowledge is vital. But getting hands-on experience through internships, part-time jobs, or volunteering will help them build practical skills.
Some schools have co-op programs for high-school students where they can earn credits by completing a semester-long unpaid work placement. There might also be organizations in your region that can connect your student to work opportunities.
6. Stay Open-Minded and Flexible
It's normal not to have everything figured out. Let your student know it's okay if their interests or goals change. It's good to keep an open mind and explore different options.
New career trends are constantly popping up, and they might discover a career path they never knew existed. Encourage them to take chances and try new things.
Career Guidance for High School Students Made Simple
Choosing a career path for high school students is challenging, but it’s worth it. Finding a fulfilling career can greatly impact your student's well-being and happiness. Plus, when they're doing something they love, they're more likely to excel at it and make a difference in the world.
Urge them to take the time to figure out what they're into, talk to career guidance pros (or use our career guide tool), connect with people in their desired field, get real-world experience, and stay open to new ideas.
Lastly, let them know not to stress too much and have fun exploring all the incredible opportunities for them, post-secondary school and beyond!