Pinpointing Potential Careers (Freshman)
How do you determine what career to pursue? For some, God’s calling will be a clear message to their heart from a young age. Others might struggle determining what career makes sense, and might need to just focus on pursuing the route that builds the most logical next set of skills.
A student doesn’t need to know her calling by the time she graduates high school (God may call us to different things as we move through the seasons of life), but it is beneficial to know the general direction in which she should move. Creating a plan for college requires a vision for the future, however vague that vision may be, and the first step is to nail down a potential career. When your child is in her early teens, this kind of long-term decision making can be difficult to do. Here are four things that may help the process:
Find Volunteer Opportunities.
Nothing speaks louder for work ethic than the willingness to work unpaid. Not only does volunteering enhance leadership skills, it bolsters a student’s resume and most importantly, cultivates a servant’s heart.
Not all volunteer opportunities have to fit with a student’s interests and strengths. Sometimes volunteering can be a great way to find out what a student does NOT want to do! Even when volunteering in a capacity they don’t particularly want to do long-term, persevering with the commitment shows character. Some families volunteer together; others choose short-term volunteer opportunities specific to their children’s skill set.
Though job shadowing and volunteering are similar, job shadowing requires a much shorter time commitment. Volunteering typically requires the student to regularly offer his services over the course of a few weeks or months. Job shadowing may be one afternoon at a doctor’s office, or one day spent in the editorial department of your local newspaper.
Job shadowing the cheapest and most efficient way to determine what your student may be interested in studying. Since homeschoolers are typically well connected, finding places to shadow is just one phone call away!
Sign Up for a Career/Personality Test.
Some students don’t even know where they want to job shadow or volunteer—they simply have no idea what they are interested in. Again: this is normal for an early teenager. However, you can help narrow down some possibilities by having your child take a career test. Tests like StrengthsFinder or CareerDirect ask a series of questions to determine your student’s skills and passions. The end result is a list of careers with a percentage match to your student’s personality. Career tests do cost money and I typically recommend taking a second one during senior year (prior to declaring a major at college), but can be worthwhile if your student needs some direction.
Get a Summer Job.
Finally, encourage your student to get a summer job. This not only shows work ethic on a resume and transcript, it builds relationships that one day become references. Each job increases your student’s connections in his community, builds her reputation, and grooms her work ethic. These three together set her up for success in high school and beyond.
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