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It can feel both exhilarating and exhausting to dream about all the possibilities for your future career and life after high school.
When you have different interests, hobbies and passions (plus a limited knowledge of what’s out there) it can be hard to settle on which career pathway to confidently venture down.
These days endless career options make it even harder to answer the question: how do I choose a career path after high school?
Finding career clarity as a high school student takes self reflection and embracing potential possibilities. Here’s six steps to take you from “no idea” to career clarity.
Start by just listing all your hobbies, interests, strengths and weaknesses onto a page. Ask yourself:
Ask for input if you’re struggling with this step. Rephrase the above questions and ask your family, teachers or friends for their thoughts.
Now, while personality tests certainly won’t give you the career counselling you need, they can be useful tools to inspire your career. Before you take a test, remember: everyone is normal and everyone is unique. Someone who loves art can also be good at maths, right?
These tests are meant to be inspiration and guidance, not gospel. It’s good to challenge the results, not just accept any internet questionnaire as fate.
There are stacks of different tests out there that will help highlight career paths matched to your skills, interests and personality. One we like is the John Holland theory.
Holland spent his career studying the world of work, creating a theory that if people were aware of their personality type or combination of two personality types then they would be happier workers. He split people into six personalities: realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising or conventional.
You can self-identify with one or more the personality types (try writing down five words that describe your personality) or answer this short questionnaire.
You’ve thought about what you’re good at and passionate about and you’ve taken a personality test so now it’s time to think about careers and potential future jobs.
Is there a clear intersection between what you enjoy doing and what you are good at?
Think about that for a moment.
You might be good with numbers and data and enjoy solving problems, leading you to consider a career as an engineer. Sometimes it’s that simple to get specific and find a job you connect with, but that’s not always the case.
Remember the job you could be doing 10 years from now hasn’t been invented yet. It’s why it’s generally better to throw yourself at an industry you enjoy or feel passionate about being part of. You can always change pathways later or use extra study to shift jobs.
We’re big believers that you should be able to try a career before you invest your time, energy and money into it. The best way to do that is, of course, take the wheels of that career for a spin.
Like the free seven-day trial offered for basically every streaming app, engaging in work experience will give you a taste of that career pathway before you commit to years of study.
Finding out more about a certain industry or career can be as simple as speaking to a professional you admire or taking a short taster course. Here at Grandshake we offer some epic and totally #free virtual work experience programs to help you connect with industry mentors.
If you’ve completed the above steps and still feel unsure, this is the time to reflect.
Finding career clarity is an ongoing process and putting yourself out there, asking questions and reflecting on your journey is the best way to move closer to your purpose.
If you’ve examined your personality and passions, found some careers or industries you’d like to learn more about, and gone out into the world to experience work firsthand then it’s time to reflect and decide if this pathway is for you.
If not, that’s okay. People change careers, degrees and jobs frequently and nothing is forever.
Review your answers from steps one to three and sign up for another work experience program or find another professional to chat to. Even the busiest people are willing to make time to support and guide the next generation.
Yaass! You’ve figured it out (for now). You’ve done the work, found a pathway and tested the waters. It ~feels~ right to you and that’s thrilling.
Maybe because we’re suckers for punishment, here’s a few more key questions to ask yourself. These questions are inspired by Truity, a site with plenty of free personality tests you can take.
The answers to these questions might not be a simple yes or no, and that’s okay. Record your answers to get a better, more complete picture of whether your chosen career is a good fit for you.
If you’re looking for ways to test the waters of a future career, here at Grandshake we offer loads of FREE virtual work experience programs and microcredentials that give you a taste of real careers and connect you with industry mentors here in Australia.
Grandshake and Junior Engineers, a one-stop shop for the industry to support young talent development from school to employment.
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