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Why do I have to pick a career field so early in life?

We have to pick what field we want to go into in high school, and I have no idea what I want to do for the rest of my life!

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Subject: Career question for you

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T.J.’s Answer

Hello Claire!

Here's the thing...

You don't! :D

You actually don't have to commit to one path.

A secret they don't tell you in high school... is...

Adults change careers all. the. time!

Bonkers, right?

- If someone starts off working at Arby's as a Window Server, are they bound to be a window food server for the rest of their life?

No!

- If someone starts off as a press secretary in a government agency, are they bound to be a secretary for the rest of their life?

No!

- If someone starts off as a software engineer (SWE), are they bound to be a SWE for the rest of their life?

No!

Nada! Nej, Nein....

Nope.

- That food server will become a manager.
- That press secretary will become a communication manager, or PR consultant.
- That software engineer will become a project leader, or systems analyst, or a senior manager.

Maybe a few years later, these three people decide:

"Hey... I actually don't like my job. I'm might look into other fields."

People. Change.

You will change.

There is nothing wrong with changing your career goals.

Changing does not mean you're indecisive. It means your 𝘨𝘳𝘰𝘸𝘪𝘯𝘨 - you're 𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨.

Anyone that says you must commit to one path for the rest of your life...

Well. Frankly, they're providing some scary advice!

Instead of choosing a path, or the number one "best" job.
Choose to follow your curiosity.
Choose to explore things that your curious about in this moment of your life.

- Maybe I want to get better at a skill I'm good at.
- Maybe I want to explore a passion and see how far I can go with it.
- Maybe I want to set up financial stability for myself and start learning about money management.

Or you can explore all of these at once!

If you do decide to think about the future, don't think about "The Future."

Think about what you would like to do in the next two years, or the next five years.

Place a limit for how far ahead you plan. You can only 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬 so far. (For multiple reasons).

Take the pressure off yourself. If you start to feel pressure from others, then release the burden of feeling their expectations.

I'll share some links below about these topics.

Sending you support with navigating and discovering careers :)

------
#1) Here's some articles that make a case for using a two-year plan:
- https://fortune.com/2022/12/06/gen-z-two-year-career-plan-dream-job/
- https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-plan-b-life/201202/the-two-year-plan

#2) Glance over this guide if you want some help with exploring what you want to do:
- https://mcusercontent.com/369fa35ddf618ce16d456d326/files/f245c692-64f7-4728-a5ed-b58d472ccf17/Career_Change_Cheat_Sheet.pdf

#3) Knowing "thyself" is important for developing a strong sense of who you are (and not buying in so much to other's goals for your life). I suggest taking a quiz called Ikigai to develop a strong self-concept:
- https://ikigaitest.com/

#4) Keep in mind that finding a job that matches all of your needs & wants is rare. If you can find a job that matches some parts of you, that's great!
Also, you can find ways to pursue other areas of Ikigai outside of your job - as volunteer work, activities you do in your free-time, as a second part time job, etc.

#5) Lastly, I'll say it again: You Will Change. Embrace it!
As long as you act according to YOUR needs and wants for your life, you will find a job that works for you. Always feel willing to grow, change gears, and adapt :)
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Mrinalini’s Answer

Hello Claire,

Often, teenagers begin working to cover their own expenses and gain independence. Your decision depends on your personal preferences and circumstances. If your parents can support you for a few more years, it may not be essential for you to start working now. It's a good idea to discuss your family's financial situation and make a decision based on that information.

Remember, there's no strict rule about when to start working; it's up to each person to determine the path they want to take in life. Wishing you all the best and applauding your thoughtful approach!
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Deborah’s Answer

There are many pressures to choose your career or life path now, as you get ready to finish high school. However, you dont really have to pick your life path now. If you are uncertain, it could be better to get some life experience to help you decide. You could volunteer with organizations which reflect your interests. Get a job both to earn money but to also get a feel for what it is like to earn money to cover some of your living expenses (maybe talk with your parents to agree what you will pay for once you have a job). You'll learn some things about working with others, from co-workers to managers, and resolve all the situations which come with that. That will teach you a lot about yourself as well. Develop your hobbies/interests and see what jobs could be built on that. Consider going to a community college to get the general ed classes, or to explore some ideas you might have. Ask lots of questions of yourself and of peers and adults in your life so you can explore your world, your options. Be creative in these endeavors, thinking outside the box when possible.
Definitely study to gain financial intelligence. The world is changing, as you know, in many important ways. The days your parents and grandparents grew up in where they worked for many years then retired on retirement income - that is not the norm these days. I'm not being cynical or scary. This means you can learn to be financially smart and use your unique skills to build a financial life that makes sense for you. You can develop a professional world for yourself. And, in this day and age, many people have more than one career in their lifetime, for a lot of reasons. Resources I recommend for starting to learn financial intelligence: Rich Dad/Poor Dad for Teens by Robert Kiyosaki, and Basher Money: How to Save, Spend, and Manage Your Money by Jacob Field
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Rebecca’s Answer

Thank you for your question. Many students have similar question. If you can identify what you want to do, it can help you to choose the relevant subjects in high school and college. The most important you find out what you have interest.
Below are my suggestions:
1. Think about your hobbies, favourite subjects, etc and identity the related careers
Eg if you are interested in maths, would you like to be an accountant, banker, engineer, financial analyst, maths teacher, etc
If you are interested in music, would you like to be a singer, musician, music teacher, music composer, music producer, etc
2. Find out more on these careers and determine what you have interest.
3. Speak to someone who are working in these careers. Seek guy from your mentor, school career counsellor, your parents, etc
Shortlist 1-2 careers you would like to pursue
5. Find out the entry criteria of relevant subjects in the college
Hope this helps! Good Luck!
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Cathy’s Answer

Hello Claire! Many people agree that you don't have to commit to just one career path in your life. While you're in high school, picking a subject or field lets you explore your interests and figure out if you enjoy it enough to consider a future career. But remember, this doesn't mean you're stuck with only one career for the rest of your life.

I have an English degree, and my career journey has taken me through various experiences, like working with international college students, volunteering, managing projects, writing technical manuals, and so much more. It's a good idea to choose a specific field early on, so if something sparks your interest, you can start taking the right classes and gain the knowledge needed to succeed.

I understand it might be scary to make a decision now, especially if you're not completely sure. But always remember, like everything else in life, you have the power to choose and can change your mind whenever you want!
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Mark’s Answer

Society really puts a lot of pressure on high schoolers to choose a career path early in life, which to me is unfair because you are just barely beginning to figure out who you are! TJ is right! People change careers all the time!! Take my journey so far: I went from wanting to be a music education major to a psychology major, graduated with my bachelor's in psychology (had no clue what I was going to do with it by the way) working as a case manager for several years before going back to get a masters in marriage counseling to my current job as a career counselor! Didn't even know that career counseling was a thing otherwise I would have went to school for it specifically! I came across this because over the years I took time to research different career options and tried new things. That being said, my advice is don't feel obligated to commit to one career path right now, despite what your teachers and maybe your parents are pressuring you to do. Take the time to learn what is out there, learn what career paths line up with your values.
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James Constantine’s Answer

Hello Claire,

My opinion is that it is pressure from demand-type market forces (the more intense demand for jobs) that make people decide what their career choice is earlier on in the timeline!

Early Decision on Career Field: Reasons and Benefits

The question of why one has to pick a career field so early in life is a common concern for many students, especially during their high school years. This issue arises due to the pressure to make an informed decision about one’s future academic and professional path. In today’s rapidly changing world, it may seem challenging to determine what one wants to do for the rest of their life at such a young age. However, there are several reasons why making an early decision on a career field can be beneficial.

Firstly, choosing a career field early in life allows students to focus their academic efforts and extracurricular activities towards gaining the necessary skills and knowledge for that particular field. For instance, if a student decides they want to pursue a career in engineering, they can take advanced math and science courses in high school and participate in engineering clubs or competitions. This focused approach can give them a competitive edge when applying to colleges or universities with strong programs in their chosen field.

Secondly, making an early decision on a career field can help students save time and money by avoiding unnecessary coursework or degree programs that do not align with their long-term goals. By taking the time to research different careers and industries, students can make more informed decisions about which educational path will best prepare them for their desired profession. This can ultimately lead to fewer student loans and less time spent in school.

Thirdly, starting early in a chosen career field can provide students with valuable work experience through internships or part-time jobs while they are still in high school or college. This experience can help them build professional networks, gain practical skills, and develop a better understanding of what the job entails. Additionally, having work experience can make students more attractive candidates when applying for full-time positions after graduation.

Lastly, making an early decision on a career field does not mean that one’s choices are set in stone. People often change careers multiple times throughout their lives due to various reasons such as personal growth, industry trends, or economic conditions. However, having a clear idea of what one wants to do early on can provide a solid foundation for building a successful and fulfilling career.

In conclusion, while it may seem daunting to choose a career field so early in life, there are several benefits to doing so. These benefits include focusing academic efforts towards gaining necessary skills and knowledge, saving time and money by avoiding unnecessary coursework or degree programs, gaining valuable work experience through internships or part-time jobs, and providing a solid foundation for building a successful and fulfilling career.

Authoritative References Used:

National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). (2021). Digest of Education Statistics 2020 (NCES 2021-015), Chapter 3: Enrollment - High School Through Doctoral Degree - Fall 2019 [Data File]. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d21/ch_3.asp?sectionid=4&subse cionid=36 [Accessed: March 15th 2023]

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). (n.d.). Occupational Outlook Handbook: Overview [Online]. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/home [Accessed: March 15th 2023]
National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). (n.d.). Trends Projections Survey Results [Online]. Retrieved from https://www.naceweb.org/career-resources/trends-projections [Accessed: March 15th 2023]



God Bless You, Richly,
JC.
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Praveen’s Answer

Choosing a career early in life can be influenced by various factors like societal expectations, education systems, and the need for stability and future planning. While early career exploration has its benefits, it's crucial to know that finding a satisfying career may not always follow a straight or fixed path. Here are some points to think about:

Exploration and discovery: Being exposed to different career fields early on can help you uncover your interests, passions, and strengths. This allows you to learn about various industries and professions, assisting you in making better decisions about your future.

Skill development: Concentrating on a specific career field early can offer you chances to develop and sharpen relevant skills and knowledge. This early specialization can be beneficial in certain fields where expertise and specialized training are crucial.

Flexibility and evolution: Keep in mind that career paths often change and evolve over time. Many people switch careers or pursue new opportunities later in life. Your interests, values, and goals may change as you gain more life experience and uncover new possibilities.

Learning from experience: Sometimes, figuring out your career preferences and finding a satisfying path requires real-world experience. Exploring different fields through internships, part-time jobs, or volunteering can offer valuable insights and help you make better career decisions.

Lifelong learning and growth: No matter when you choose a career field, a dedication to ongoing learning and personal growth is vital. Your career journey will likely involve gaining new skills, adapting to changing industries, and seizing new opportunities.

It's essential to approach career decisions with an open mind and understand that it's okay to explore various paths and make changes along the way. Taking the time to know yourself, your interests, and your values can help you make more satisfying career choices, whether that happens early in life or later on. Keep in mind that personal growth and finding career satisfaction are continuous processes that can develop throughout your life.
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