The best thing you can do to prepare yourself for future success is to find what you feel passionate about. It sounds like you have identified one key component: helping people.
There are many career fields that you can explore that help people directly, such as nursing, research, medicine, teaching, counseling, and fitness training.
From my experience, the best way to figure out what you are passionate about is to try taking classes in different subjects, or taking jobs and internships that sound interesting to you. From there, it will be easier to figure out what career path you should take. As an Events Designer, I've been surprised how my past classes and jobs in unrelated fields have helped shape my thought process and design eye. You may have heard people say that if you work doing something you feel passionate about, you won't feel like you're working at all. I believe this is true.
Allison recommends the following next steps:
I'm a graphic designer in San Francisco, CA. I found that art, design and creative thinking were a constant part of my life growing up, long before I got paid to do it. Finding success as a designer happened because I love to design—I went to a 2-year design program at San Diego City College, went to design conferences, interned as a designer, graduated from California College of the Arts in SF, and found my first job. This felt much easier because I was active in the design community, and could always ask someone for advice or help.
You've said you want to help people, which is wonderful! I think you could take that in lots of different directions. For example, what do you love to do, just for fun? Is there any way to incorporate that into a job that helps people?
For example—do your friends always come to you with a problem, because you're a great listener and will help them get to the bottom of an issue? Maybe that's an indication you could pursue a job as a therapist. Ask your friends and family: what do you think I'm great at? See if you get similar answers. Is there anything you could pursue from there? Is there anything in the Great Barrington community that could use your help?
There are lots of ways to help people—your next step might be defining HOW you want to help people.
Lastly, I just want to say, don't feel like you have to figure it all out right now! Life is about trying things and learning from your experiences. You get to define what success means to you.
Good luck, Mikaela! :)
You have been given some excellent advice by mentors already. One additional thought for you to consider is to gain insight into your natural strengths and build out your options for helping people from there. There are several assessments that will help you better understand your natural strengths. My favorite is StrengthsFinder. Once you find one that suits your needs, take the assessment and review the report. It will reveal not only your true strengths, but also which ones are stronger than others. You will also gain insight into potential high level career options that are aligned with and value your strengths. You can also use the report along your career path to keep you grounded on where you are strongest as well as to confirm that your career path still aligns with those strengths.
Best wishes for a successful and meaningful journey.
Those are fantastic goals, and I think it's wonderful that you are thinking about the future. Wanting to help people and be successful while doing it is a noble pursuit. It's a little general right now so let's help you make it more specific.
What activities do you enjoy the most? Which classes do you enjoy the most?
If you enjoy arguing on the debate team, you may find enjoyment in being a lawyer and helping to stand up for folks who need a good defense.
If you enjoy biology class and like dissecting frogs, you may find enjoyment in being a surgeon.
If you have a lot of empathy and are great at giving advice, you may find fulfillment as a psychologist.
If you are always the life of the party and telling jokes that make people laugh, you may have success as a stand-up comedian.
Basically, the goal is to get specific with HOW you would like to help people which then leads to WHAT you would want to do (career-wise).
The possibilities are endless!