The old saying “what you don’t know won’t hurt you” means if you do not know about a problem, you will not be able to make yourself unhappy by worrying about it. That belief is supported by the belief “ignorance is bliss“.
When it comes to creating/having a career plan, focusing on it (worrying about it) will actually create a great deal of happiness, help you avoid major stress and save you (and/or your parents) thousands of dollars. Based on almost daily news, the amount of college loan debt has escalated to levels considered very dangerous for our economy and for individuals. Having excessive education loan debt is a personal accountability issue – not a national economy issue.
How much debt do you want or plan to have when you graduate college? According to an article in the Huffington Post, “the average college graduate obtained a degree in 2012 with $29,400 in student debt, up from $18,750 less than a decade before in 2004, according to a new report.” To avoid unnecessary costs (which frequently ends up becoming debt) during college, avoid changing majors and choose the right college or university for you. If you are unsure about a career direction and go into college as an “undeclared major” you are likely to not have any revelations about a career direction by the end of your Freshman year. Whether you put it off or tackle career planning in high school, the only way to avoid unnecessary expense and find true happiness is to do the career planning work.
So, the short answer to the question, Do I Need to Have a Career Plan in High School?, is that you need to be doing the work of creating a career plan. The Career Coaching for Students™ program looks at this work as developing Decision Making skills. Decision making is a recognized skill of highly successful people and happens to be one of the weakest skills for incoming Freshman in college. You don’t necessarily need to have made a career decision but you need to be well on your way to identifying and understanding your career interests and the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats associated with your career interests.
A career plan is the reward for the work you’ll do to determine your skills and interests, what career best suits your talents, and what skills and training you need for your chosen career.
By developing a career plan, you can focus on what you want to do and how to get there without worrying and without unnecessary expense. To do this well, you must start with a “professional-grade assessment” that helps you understand your personality strengths. Career planning is only one benefit of using assessments to become much more self-aware. You’ll also find you will have a better understanding of your skills and experiences to discuss with potential employers (on your resume and in future interviews).
To eventually have a defined career goal, get started now.
A career goal can be a specific job you want to do — such as doctor or teacher — or be a particular field you want to work in, such as medicine or education.
Rather than limiting your future, a career goal may help you discover career possibilities you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. There are several job possibilities with any chosen career. For instance, if you choose a medical career, you may want to be a scientist, a nurse, or a doctor.
A career goal can also guide you into doing what you want with your life.
- Become Self-Aware.
- Identify Career Interests.
- Narrow your career interests to a top two or three.
- Determine what you need to do to prepare for your chosen career.
- Besides the right college major, do you need special training? Some careers need the specialized training but don’t require a college degree. If so, find out what schools offer the training you need. Also, determine what kind of experience will you need to be successful in the career. Consider an internship as a way to get work experience in the career field.
- Write your career plan. Use online tools to help you create a visual career plan.
Carl Nielson is Chief Discovery Officer of Success Discoveries and Managing Principal of The Nielson Group, an organizational development consulting firm serving Fortune 100 company clients. As creator of the Career Coaching for Students program for high school students and Career and Success Skills Mastery for College Students and Recent Grads, Carl and his team of licensed facilitators across North America have helped thousands of students find a better way through a career exploration process that works. Self-directed assessment and career exploration coaching packages start at $399. Local public workshops, distance-coaching and in-school programs available. Call for more information at 972.346.2892.
It’s absolutely possible — especially considering the growing student debt problem. Some of my teen clients have they don’t have any friends who are going to college right after high school because it’s simply too expensive when you don’t know what you want yet. The new trend is to spend a year working, figuring that out, before investing in a degree.
Yet another way Millennials and Gen Z are growing up more financially aware and savvy.
Gen Y Speaker, Millennial Speaker
Hi Crystal, et.al.,
Thanks for your comment. One of the areas of possible confusion that I have found is the idea of career vs going to college. I didn’t address it in my article but anyone going to college should have a career plan. Anyone not going to college should have a career plan. A vocational (technical trades, crafts, etc.) track is no different than a college track – both are careers that need a plan and execution to see success.