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How should younger students go about exploring potential careers?

How can students in middle school or younger start learning about careers, especially if they don't have adults they can turn to?

This question comes from our professionals series

Thank you comment icon Ok. I think when we are growing, i usually have in mind the people we are imitating. So seeking advice from them can be of great help. Also you can seek for help from the educated people around you been it your Lecturer or seniors. Beside that you can go online to search for what skills is required in the field you are interested on exploring. Yakubu Bitrus

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Leslie’s Answer

Hello,

Think about the things you love and things you love to do. Ask yourself the following questions as a start: What are your hobbies? What are some activities that you find you could do all day? What are your dreams? What are your favorite classes in school and why? What other classes or subjects would you want to learn more about or see in your school? What products/tools/devices do you use regularly that help you or offer entertainment? What do you think would make those products/tools/devices better? What changes do you want to see in your community? How do you think one would accomplish those changes you wish to see in your community? Revisit these questions periodically - at least 1 to 3 times a school year.

Most importantly, seek support from school and community resources. For example, talk to school counselors, teachers, and librarians about your interests in exploring careers and why it's important to you. Let them know you need help discovering a broad range of careers and careers that align with the things you love and the things you love to do. Ask them to help you branch those careers to industries and mulitple roles that would match your interests. Let them know you wish to discover more about various careers to determine what else you want to explore.

Think back to the questions above. Discuss with your school counselors, teachers, and librarians shadow and volunteer opportunties for younger students in places that align with your interests. Shadowing people in different professions and volunteering will expose you to the tasks in different roles. Mayor or city programs through public libraries, parks and recreation, community colleges, univerisities, non-profits, and companies in your area may offer a range of support, resources, and opportunities too.

Have fun discovering your career path and keep exploring!








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Frances’s Answer

Dear Student,
Most schools have an account with Naviance (https://www.naviance.com) and set up their students with access. First students should contact their guidance department.

Students can start in middle school using tools on this site to investigate their interests using survey questions. Once these interests are matched with careers that have aspects within these interests, students can start honing in on careers or college courses of study within these careers.

Another resource everyone has sort of left by the wayside is your local library! Call or ask your local librarian about where you can find resources to focus in on careers that are interesting to the student. Your local library has free resources, and many can be reached remotely online if the student cannot physically get to the library.

Frances recommends the following next steps:

See if the student has access to Naviance through their school; if not contact local librarian.
Set up/log in to Naviance account and begin researching interests
Talk to a local librarian for resources
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Vannessa’s Answer

My first piece of advice and most important is; whatever makes you happy. We get so engulfed in trying to obtain a career that will support us financially, that we sacrifice our mental health, our free time and so much more. When we focus on finding a career that makes us genuinely happy, we will never feel like its exhausting, or not worth it.

Vannessa recommends the following next steps:

Be honest with yourself - what makes your happy
Find a mentor
in your free time (volunteer to do that activity)
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Bennae’s Answer

I recommend to every young student who's interested in pursuing a career to start off with a Vision Board. Having a visual of what you want can put things into perspective:

1. Make a list of TOP 5 Career choices
2. Research each profession ( Make a list of Pros and Cons)
3. Reach out to a Counselor for career development seminars
4. Follow Career Sites to review best employment locations, salaries, and qualifications

Once you have narrowed down the TOP 2, prepare for your future. Do your best in school, and check the best route to reach your goal: 4-Year College versus Community College and obtaining a Degree or Certification. Whatever works to get you to that end goal, never give up!
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Gerald’s Answer

This is a great activity to get younger people thinking early as it can expose them to a lot of things that they may never have considered. One exercise that I have used with younger mentees is to have them ask a couple of introductory questions with relatives or people they are comfortable with.
1) What did you want to do for a living when you were my age?
2) What did you do today?
3) What was the biggest step you took to get there?
4) What advise would you give yourself at my age based on what you know now?

It introduces them not only to careers, but what it takes to get there and the last question typically sparks some good advise about what they should start thinking about in terms of skills (drawing if you want to be an artist) or schoolwork.
Bringing the kids together and having them present their interview results then helps share the info.
Hope this helps!
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Aaron’s Answer

There are a couple pieces of advice that I've received and given to this answer. The long and short is that you need to find something that:

1. Makes you happy.
2 . Is based around what you're good at (or what you want to be good at/can be good at).
3. Will be able to provide you a lifestyle (financially and time-wise) that is acceptable to you.

Personal mentors can be a great way to help coax these answers out of you. If you're not able to find a personal mentor, I'd recommend finding a teacher or guidance counselor who knows you and you trust.
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Chirayu’s Answer

There are several ways that younger students can explore potential careers:
-Students can research different careers online and in books to learn more about the responsibilities, qualifications, and earning potential of different jobs.
-Students can reach out to professionals in their desired field and ask to shadow them for a day to gain a firsthand understanding of what the job entails.
-Students can seek out internships in their desired field to gain experience and learn more about the day-to-day responsibilities of the job.
-Students can attend career fairs and networking events to meet professionals in their desired field and learn more about different career opportunities.
-Doing volunteer work in the field they are interested in, can help students gain experience and learn more about the field.
-Take classes or workshops related to their desired field: Enrolling in classes or workshops in their desired field can help students gain knowledge and skills that will be useful in their future careers.
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Liana’s Answer

Hi there,
There are many online recourses you can reference including YouTube videos, various chat rooms on Reddit could be helpful too i.e. r/careerguidance.
If you already have an idea of your interests, you may want to attend one of the career fairs specilising in the area you are interested in exploring.
Hope this helps.
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Mack’s Answer

At our local middle schools, guidance counselors usually have many resources about jobs and careers for students to look at. Other resources are probably available online and counselors could probably help with that, too. TimeKids looks like a possibility, but I have not used it; similar online resources should be available but may become overwhelming! https://www.timeforkids.com/your-hot-job/

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Marcia’s Answer

Look into vocational or magnet high school in your city. These programs offers several careers such as nursing , dental electrical, daycare studies, cosmetology, accounting,law and a host of other careers. Join dual enrollment classes to take high school and college at the same time. You have so much options. Take advantage of them.
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Melissa’s Answer

1. They then can go around the neighborhood or even ask trusted adults/neighbors what they do for a living and what they like/dislike about it or why they chose that profession. If they’re geared towards a certain profession, some places may have volunteering or shadow opportunities that they can do to see if they actually do like it.
2. If in a classroom setting, I always did like when we had to interview certain professionals and research careers and then present them in class because then kids learn about careers they may not even know existed or didn’t know they were interested in them.
3. Have them go to their interested place of career (ex. Doctors office if they want to be a doctor, dental clinical if they want to be a dentist) and see if they can talk to anyone; some may be more responsive and willing to answer questions than others.
4. If they’re old enough, going on LinkedIn is a great way to conduct interviews via chat instead of in person and most are responsive as well.
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Elizabeth’s Answer

Hello! Great question and here is a list of things you can do to narrow your search:
1. First, explore as much as possible!
2. If you can find something you love doing and can make a career out of it you may never feel you worked a day in your life!
3. Ask people around you, Mom, Dad, teachers, etc. how they found their careers and if they have any recommendations.
4. If you have an opportunity to volunteer or complete an internship, that is a great way to experience the field and get a better understanding, if this is something you really want to do.

Good Luck and have fun!

Elizabeth Gibson
Verizon Communication
Internal Auditor
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Heather’s Answer

Research is #1. Middle schoolers and high schoolers already do this a bunch for their studies, but doing research and taking notes on each career they look up will help them form a list to work off of. After a large list has been built start with a top 10 or top 5.

#2 is job shadowing within a company that has the career they might be interested in (out of their top 5 jobs). This is a huge hurdle for teens in general and hopefully they reach out to a school counselor or student advisor that can help set this up. Otherwise they can email certain companies and inquire so that they can be sent to the coordinator for job shadowing.
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Makayla’s Answer

My first advice for this is to talk to a guidance counselor or a teacher you trust to talk through some of your likes and dislikes, then go from there. Start maybe getting into activities like cooking, art classes, sports and explore some things you have fun doing - its okay if you try something and you don't like it, you don't have to continue just keep exploring different activities until you find a few you really enjoy. This is going to help shape some great skills as you grow up and it might spark a passion for a possible career or give you some more skills to navigate what you want to do when you are ready for that step in your life to decide on a career.
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Ehab’s Answer

Look at your school staff like the principle to ask them for any school programs such as career day. This will get you in contact with professionals who you can interact with and will be able to ask them questions. Ask them open ended questions, such as tell me about what you do, how did you choose this career? What kind of degree did you get? What is a typical day like for you? What are the top 3 things you like about your job? What about the top 3 things you don't like about your job? See if the school has a mentoring program you can join so that you can get ongoing advice as you get older and get closer to choosing a college.
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Jordan’s Answer

Hello,
Students at this age may not have that parental figure that they can turn to for advice in general much less career advice. The faculty at the school would be a place I would suggest for this type of advice, especially the school counselor. It may not be directly about careers as very few students at this age know what they want to do. But it can be about what interests them. What classes are their favorite? What activities do they participate in after school that interest them. As a former teacher, I always advocate for career guidance offerings to be part of the school experience. Workshops, seminars, and even classes should be offered to better prepare students for life after school.
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