What You Should Look For in a Career as a Teenager

Being in high school can be overwhelming. There’s a lot of pressure to succeed and do well so that you can develop a successful career. Deciding what you want to be when you ’grow up’ can be tough. There is a lot of added stress to choose the right school and the right career.

Most people don’t discover who they are as individuals when they are young adults. It can be challenging to choose a career when you lack experience. To be fair, we never stop developing and you’ll be learning new things about yourself until the day you leave this world, but without much practical life experience, it can be tough to commit to a career plan.

When you graduate from high school, you’re expected to apply to a post-secondary school so that you can go on to have a successful career. At this young age, how do you choose the right path? What is it that you should look for in a career?

According to a study conducted by Junior Achievement USA, a national sample of individuals between the ages of 14 to 18 showed that many simply do not know what they want to do. More specifically, there’s been a 17 percent drop in interest towards STEM (science, technology, mathematics, engineering) and medical fields. Educators and the government are concerned as these are the professions that are needed to grow the American economy in the future.

In total, 15 percent of the 1,025 teens surveyed responded with, I don’t know what kind of career I want after school. The idea that students lack the understanding and knowledge they need was mentioned within this study. As a senior economist, Nicole Smith stated, “We know where the jobs are, but a lot of young adults just don’t have the available information.”

Not only should you be focusing on what will make a great career, but also how you will acquire the knowledge and experience you need to reach your goals. If you are currently a teenager struggling to make a decision, or you’re a parent who would like to help your teen take the necessary steps, here are a few tips to guide you in the right direction.

A Career That you Will Enjoy and Excel in

Even if you lack real world job experience and have yet to discover your true self, every teen dreams about their future. This is a great starting point, as it can spark interest in certain fields. There is no better time than your teenage years to eliminate careers that you’d dislike or that don’t necessarily match your abilities or personality.

Job satisfaction is important, but so are stable careers. Think about some of your core interests and how they could be implemented into a successful future. There are literally thousands of jobs out there and the main issue is that most individuals simply do not have enough information. The idea here is to think of your dream job or what you enjoy and then take part in career exploration.

Focus on blogs that you enjoy, are there any positions mentioned that catch your eye? By writing down everything that you come across in terms of your core interests, you’ll begin to construct a possible list of career ideas. From there, you can further explore those that make sense for you and your geographic location.

Some find that speaking to a career counselor about their interests or even taking part in specific personality tests can help develop new ideas. Based on your personality, you can narrow down careers that you would both enjoy and excel in. For example, if you’re extremely introverted and enjoy research, a sales manager position probably wouldn’t be the best fit.

The Fastest Growing Occupations

As mentioned earlier, the study that surveyed teenagers, explained that health care, STEM, and community service jobs will be the fastest growing careers in the upcoming years. These careers require high levels of education so teenagers will need to plan and prepare for future opportunities.

Based on the findings reported from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, health care and technology industries are expected to boom by 2022, with varying requirements regarding education. For those who do not plan on attending a post-secondary institute, careers such as becoming an ambulance driver, a stonemason, and medical secretary are all expected to grow and only require a high school diploma.

There are also plenty of lucrative careers that are expected to grow which will require further education and personal planning. Ranging from interpreters to psychologists, physical therapists to physician assistants, these careers are all expected to see a minimum 30 percent growth, requiring a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree.

Although it’s important to focus on a career that offers a future, you will also need to feel as though it’s the right fit. There are plenty of careers that offer a promising future, so once again, career exploration is highly effective in terms of narrowing down your search.

A Career You’re Excited to Work Towards 

If you don’t have the necessary experience, why not job shadow? This can be a great way to get some practical experience, and it will help you see if the career you’re interested in is what you expected it to be before committing to 4+ years of education. You will experience first-hand experience regarding the day-to-day realities of the career you’re interested in.

20 percent discount
20 percent discount

You may seek informal job shadowing experience, participating for a few hours or even one full day. If you’re going to select this route, try and shadow 2-3 potential careers so that you can narrow down your search. If you’re really focused on a specific career, you can also take part in formal job shadowing, set-up through your school or a selected organization. You never know, you may meet a mentor that could change the course of your career path.

There are plenty of high school internships available which offer practical experience. Some internships will last a couple of weeks, while more in-depth opportunities could last a couple of months. Although you may still find the odd summer internship that offers some financial incentive, the majority of internships are unpaid because it’s not about the money. Internships offer young adults a chance to develop certain skills and learn valuable information first-hand. You will be able to see exactly what certain careers offer. 

Approach a career center, or a guidance counsellor, to set-up a local internship. Remember, if you do land an internship, employers expect you to treat it as though you have committed to a job. Take it seriously to get the most out of the experience. Do it for you, not anyone else. This will ensure that you get the most out of your experience and that you will continue to take the necessary steps once your internship is over. You may also realize what you don’t want in a career and better understand certain criteria, so you know what to look for within other career options.

At the end of the day, no one is going to come to you and hand you all the information you require on a silver platter. You need to be willing to get out there, contact experts in your desired field, ask questions, and take action. Believe in yourself and your abilities and you will be able to reach your goals.

Being a teenager can be overwhelming and there’s no need to stress yourself out. Although looking at the big picture is important, it’s best to break down your long-term goals into short-term, smaller goals that you can immediately achieve. Once you make some progress, your confidence will increase and you will feel more at ease.