Exploring Careers

Finding a career path may seem easy for some people and yet the hardest decision in the world for others. Everybody goes about the process differently and makes the choices they make for very different reasons. There is no “one right answer,” and more than one path can lead to the same type of work. It’s important to remember that it’s okay to not know what to do after high school – to explore and take your time to find out where your interests, values and skills really lie before jumping into something. Most people change jobs and careers an average of eight to ten times in their lifetime!

Where Are You in the Process of Exploring Careers?

Scroll through the statements below to find resources. Or, look at the bottom of this page to find quick links for information you need.

1. “I don’t know what I’m interested in…”

It’s important to remember that interests only describe one facet of who you are, so they can’t predict exactly which career path is right for you. You must take into account your skills and abilities, and your values as you go through self-assessment.

Take interest and personality inventories available through Naviance. Then, make an appointment to meet with a counselor, and they will help you review your results.

Ask people who know you well (relatives, friends, supervisors) where they think your interests, skills, and values lie.

Try answering these questions (write down your thoughts):

  • What do you enjoy doing? (What makes the time pass quickly? What is so natural that you can’t help but do it?)
  • What did you always enjoy doing as a kid? How did you spend your free time?
  • What do you most enjoy thinking about? Where do your thoughts seem to wander?
  • How do opinions or outside influences (family, friends, teachers, etc.) impact your academic/experiential/career choices?
  • Where do you see yourself 5 years from now… 10 years from now?

2. “I have some job areas in mind but need to know more about them…”

Visit O*NET, the Occupational Outlook Handbook or Iseek. Choose the career that interests you and read about the day-to-day activities, training required, job outlook, salary expectations, and more.

Talk with someone in that career field! Choose to do an informational interview with them, or even watch what they do through job shadowing. Come to the Youth Future office in S109 to learn more.

Fill out the Career Exploration Worksheet – Using resources found on the Youth Future website, find information for each occupation that is of interest to you.

3. “I think I’ve decided on a career direction…”

The best way to be sure it’s a good fit is to observe the reality of the work, talk with people who do it, gain hands-on experience, or immerse yourself in different areas of your career path of interest. Try the following suggestions:

Try informational interviewing as a way to get the information you need to help you make your decision. Talk with school staff, teachers, parents, and friends to identify potential people to contact in your occupational area. Ask about whatever is important to you – lifestyle, salary, opportunity for advancement, work culture, variety, freedom, etc. Link here to download a sample list of questions.

Engage in a job shadowing experience. Spend anywhere from a few hours to a day or two on-site observing professionals and seeing what a typical day is like in your career area of interest. While you’re there, meet a variety of people who are in that line of work and do some informational interviewing to get others’ perspectives.

Get an internship, a summer job, or part time employment in your area of interest as a way to “test the water.” Come in to the Youth Future office in S109 and talk with a Career Exploration Student Coach about resources to help you in your job or internship search.

Descriptions of Careers

  • O*NET –search hundreds of different types of jobs and learn the training and education needed, earnings, expected job prospects, what workers do on the job and working conditions
  • Occupational Outlook Handbook – similar to O*NET, search for jobs and learn more about possible paths to get there
  • Iseek – Minnesota’s career, education and job resource
  • Career One Stop is a similar resource sponsored by the U.S. Dept of Labor.
  • Career Stories – job descriptions and advice from hundreds of people working in real jobs

Postsecondary Programs Connected With Careers

Other “Exploring” Resources

Visit the Youth Future office in S109 at the Northfield High School to find out more about these opportunities!