How to Choose a Career After High School: A Guide for Teenagers

career after high school guide

Charting the course for a fruitful career begins with a solid foundation built on knowledge, skills, and a clear direction. The cornerstone of success in any profession is a profound understanding of one’s field, an insight that is cultivated through years of dedicated learning and practice. However, the road to professional fulfilment is often paved with difficult decisions and uncertainties, especially for young individuals on the brink of their career journey.

As a student, particularly one on the verge of graduating high school, the ticking clock amplifies the pressure of determining your future. The decision to choose an area of specialization or a career path can be daunting, often feeling like an insurmountable hurdle. With numerous possibilities stretching out before you, how do you pinpoint the one that aligns best with your aspirations, skills, and passion?

Navigating this labyrinth of choices necessitates guidance, and who better to seek advice from than the experts?

Expert Advice for Students on Choosing the Right Career Path

In the following section, we delve into expert opinions and advice tailored for students grappling with the challenge of choosing the right career path. From understanding your interests to researching potential careers, these insights aim to equip you with the tools needed to make an informed decision.

Understand Your Interests

Start by creating a list of activities, subjects, or topics that spark your interest. These can be based on your hobbies, favorite school subjects, or even things you enjoy reading about in your free time. Once you have this list, look for common themes or patterns. For instance, if you find that you’re interested in health, biology, and helping others, you might consider careers in healthcare.

Identify Your Skills

Think about the skills you already possess. Are you an excellent communicator? Are you good at solving complex problems? Can you learn new languages quickly? Reflect on compliments you’ve received or successes you’ve had. You can also take aptitude tests available online to help identify your strengths. Once you’ve identified your skills, consider careers where they could be applied.

Consider Your Values

Identify what’s important to you in life. This could be anything from having a high salary, making a difference in people’s lives, maintaining a healthy work-life balance, to having job security. Write down your top values and keep them in mind as you explore different career paths.

Research Potential Careers

Armed with your interests, skills, and values, start exploring careers. Use resources like the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, which provides detailed information about various professions, including their duties, education requirements, salary ranges, and future outlook. Seek employment that fits your values, makes use of your skills, and is in line with your interests.

Seek Guidance

Reach out to adults in your life—teachers, counselors, family members or professionals in the field of your interest. Ask them about their experiences, seek their advice, and learn from their insights. You can also attend career fairs or use networking platforms like LinkedIn to connect with professionals in your areas of interest.

Experience the Job

Try to gain practical experience in the field of your interest. Seek volunteer work, part-time employment, and internships. You could also conduct informational interviews or shadow a professional in your chosen field. These experiences can provide you with a realistic understanding of what working in that field is like.

Plan Your Career Path

After you’ve identified a potential career, plan the steps needed to get there. This might involve pursuing a certain educational degree, gaining specific skills, or acquiring relevant work experience. Use resources like academic advisors, career counselors, and online research to help create this plan.

Remember, it’s okay if your interests and career aspirations evolve over time. The secret is to continue exploring career options while remaining adaptable, receptive, and proactive.

Exploring Options: Activities to Help Uncover Your Ideal Career

If the pressure of choosing a career path feels overwhelming, remember that there’s no need to rush. It’s crucial to give yourself time to explore, reflect, and discover what truly resonates with you. Here’s a host of activities that you can engage in to uncover potential career paths and identify the one that fits you the most. 


Companies provide short-term work experiences called internships to people, usually students, to give them some initial exposure to a particular industry or field. It’s like a test drive for a job without making a long-term commitment. You get to learn about a field, develop skills, make connections, and bolster your resume. You can find internships through your school’s career center, job fairs, company websites, or job search websites.

Job Shadowing

Job shadowing is the practice of spending one or more days under the supervision of a professional in the workplace. You won’t be performing the work but instead watching and learning. It allows you to see the realities of a job and industry up close. To arrange job shadowing, you can reach out to family, friends, teachers, or even potential employers to ask if they would be open to it.

Career Fairs and Networking Events

Career fairs are gathering places for recruiters and employers to find potential employees. It’s a fantastic place to learn about companies, discover what employers are looking for, and network. Networking events, on the other hand, allow you to meet industry professionals and peers who can provide advice, share information, and possibly lead you to job opportunities.

Exploring Different Subjects

This involves broadening your academic horizons. You can do this by taking elective classes outside your major in college or signing up for online courses in different fields. The goal here is to expose yourself to as many different fields as possible, which might help you discover an interest in a field you hadn’t considered before.


By volunteering, you can give your time and expertise to a cause or organization without anticipating payment. It is a fantastic way to pick up new skills, get experience, and determine whether a certain industry or kind of work is right for you. Look for volunteer opportunities in your local community, through your school, or on websites that list volunteer positions.

Informational Interviews

An informational interview is a casual discussion where you can get advice and information from someone who works in a field that interests you. It’s an effective research tool and a way to get insider insights about a career path, a company, or an industry that you won’t get elsewhere. You can conduct informational interviews by reaching out to professionals via email, phone, or social media and asking if they would be willing to meet with you.

Career Assessment Tests

A career assessment test is a tool used to determine how an individual’s interests, values, preferences, motivations, and aptitudes relate to the likelihood of success and satisfaction in a variety of career paths and work settings. Online career assessments are widely accessible for free.

Final Advice on Career Exploration for High School Students

As we conclude, it’s important to remember that exploring careers during high school is not about making a final decision. Instead, it’s about starting the journey of self-discovery and career exploration. It’s about learning what you like, what you’re good at, and what value you want to bring to your professional life.

High school is a great time to start this exploration because you have access to a variety of resources—guidance counselors, teachers, career fairs, internships, and more. Take advantage of these opportunities and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.

Remind yourself that it is acceptable if you do not currently have everything worked out. The goal isn’t to choose the perfect career immediately but to learn more about yourself and the world of work.

Final piece of advice: Be patient with yourself. Career exploration is a journey, not a destination. You might not find the perfect fit right away, and that’s okay. Continue learning, continue exploring, and maintain an open mind. The right career path will reveal itself in time.


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