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Summertime Activity in High School: Career Exploration

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What summertime activity in high school will help you explore careers, as well as majors you might like to pursue in high school?

While much has been stated on this blog about the importance and the insignificance of choosing a major prior to attending college, it is still somewhat easier to narrow down your college list if you have some idea of your academic and career interests.  You don’t have to sign on the dotted line and say, “This is what I want to do for the rest of my life,” however, it is a good idea to have some general direction or even just rule a few things out.

One way to do this is to test the waters a bit. The long summer vacation provides a great opportunity. Do a little exploration of careers that may be connected to majors you are thinking about.  Here are some ways to investigate different career paths as a summertime activity in high school:

 

Hit the internet:

Do you really know what a financial planner does?  What does it really mean to be architect?  Research some of the backgrounds of some professionals that you have heard of or respect.  Look up the executive board members of a company you think you might want to work for. Then and Google their names.  Where did they go to school?  What did they major in?  What former positions have they held?

Learn about job titles:

Now that you have some job titles from the fields you may have an interest in, find out what those jobs actually require.  Hit career websites such as CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com and view job postings for those specific titles.  You might be surprised to learn about what is really required.

Talk to someone in the field:

Let’s face it, everyone likes to talk about what they do. Conducting informational interviews is a great way to find out more about a career.  Ask your parents or teachers if they know anyone who may be the fields you are interested in.  Once you have the contact information for potential interviews, politely ask them if you can meet with them to ask them questions about their profession.  Here are some potential questions to consider:

– How did you become interested in this profession?

– What previous jobs have you held that lead you to your current position?

– What did you study in college and how did you pick your major?

– What courses in your major have helped you in your career?

– What advice would you give to someone who is interested in your profession?

– Is there anyone else I can talk to who may be willing to provide me with more information on this profession?

– Are their any opportunities to intern at your company so I can learn more about your business?

For more about summertime planning in high school to prepare for college admissions, watch this video.

[VIDEO]

Summer programs:

Many college campuses host career exploration programs for high school students. Some of these may last a few days, while others may last for a week or two or even longer. Some programs can be surprisingly cheap and even free. Others may be relatively expensive. We generally like these programs–especially when they are inexpensive and located close to home. We don’t think it necessary to spend more on these programs just because they are offered by a prestigious university.

Often these sorts of programs are completely disconnected from the admissions office. As well as general administration of the university, and your attendance will have no impact on admissions down the road. We like these programs because they allow students to make connections between academic choices and career opportunities. So look for programs in your state. Or nearby where you can cut your teeth on some new and exciting learning. And, consider potential career options down the road.

Learn by doing:

Jobs and internships are another great summertime activity in high school. These will help you learn whether you would like a certain career.  When I was in college, I spent an entire summer running a camp for 5 to 8 year olds.  I took the position because I was considering being a teacher. I wanted to see if I enjoyed working with large groups of children.  I did everything from curriculum planning to first aid. Then, when the summer was over, I knew elementary education was not for me. Without that hands-on experience, I may have entered a major and future profession that I really did not enjoy.

A great way to find potential jobs or internships is through the informational interviews.  One of the things you can ask people is what summer activity in high school might they recommend for someone who is interested in their field. While you are meeting with professionals, it does not hurt to ask if they have summer internships available for high school students.

Don’t forget that when you are researching colleges, it is also a good idea to connect with the Center for Career Development.  Last week’s blog post on career questions to ask during the college admissions process will help you further explore if the colleges you are interested in are offering career development opportunities.

We hope this guide will help you find a suitable summertime activity in high school that will allow you to explore careers and potential academic majors.

Mark Montgomery

Educational Consultant

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