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EIN number: 83-1699922

Career-Readiness: What Is It and How to Get Started

Who do you think you’re more similar to?

  • The straight-A student with five Advanced Placement (AP) classes committed to staying on top of their classes;

OR

  • The B-average student with a couple AP classes that is interning to explore a career interest and is seeking advice from professionals in that field.

If you chose the latter, I have good news for you: studies have found that “internships and employment during college are the top traits employers consider in evaluating recent graduates for a position.” [1]


Don't get me wrong though; career-oriented students can also excel in academia. However, conventional schooling often results in an endless cycle of sleeping, eating, studying, and repeating just that. It does not prepare you for the end-goal, which is a career and your dream job.


Students as early as high school can get ahead of the game if they are exploring their career interests, gaining work experience, and networking with professionals in their field of interest.


So how do you get started?


STRONG NETWORKS ARE BUILT OVER TIME.


Image by Lake Forest College.

If there is a person whose job you could see yourself doing in ten, twenty or even thirty years, then you should reach out to them. High school is the prime time to make a strong impression on professionals in your field. These are people who are going to serve as mentors and guides to you as you matriculate to higher education and make career-changing decisions.


In my sophomore year of high school, I met a law professor at Loyola Law School. The professor was busy at the time with a program the law school was hosting – so I told myself I would reach out to him later, but for now, I would introduce myself and offer some help. That was the start of a relationship that has guided me through the last two years: that same law professor has exposed me to what going to law school actually means, how to prepare myself for it, and much more.

Some students (and adults) may think that high school is too early to get started. Rest assured, it is never too early to start investing in your career. Creating a strong network that you can rely on early on only benefits you in the long run.


Regardless of what it is you wish to pursue – law, business, medicine, technology – having those mentors will help you not only decide whether that profession is right for you, but also get a head start in your career.


YOU DON'T NEED TO HAVE IT ALL FIGURED OUT TO MOVE FORWARD.


Perhaps you’re not sure where to begin: you have too many interests or none at all. That’s typical of college students, let alone a high school student. Reports show that about one in three college students changes their majors at least once. [2] So it’s okay to not know what you’re going to do and where you’re going to end up; however, it’s not okay to do nothing about it.


High school is the best place to try new things because, in these four years, there are almost no consequences for doing so. What I mean by this is, compared to the adult with bills to pay and children to feed, high school students do not carry nearly as many responsibilities and thus has the freedom to explore different interests and careers. What worse would be, for example, devoting 10+ years to become a doctor, only to realize it isn’t the right career for you afterward.


From middle school up to my freshman year, I’ve wanted to be a fire-fighter, doctor, police officer – you name it. It was not until the summer of my freshman year, when I spoke to an actual lawyer for the first time, that I realized this was the field I actually wanted to go into. To this day, all of my experiences have only confirmed that. This is not to say I have it all figured out, but at least now I have an idea of where I want to end up.

So talk to your local business owners. Shadow a business executive for a day. Observe a court trial. Volunteer at a hospital. Take advantage of your high school years to explore your interests and figure out what really excites you.


You don’t need to have it all figured out. All you have to do is take the first step.


ABOUT ME


My name is Anthony Hu and I'm the Director of Human Relations for InnovaYouth. I'm a senior at Alhambra High School and I am that B-average student. I really believe that high school students should be exploring their interests throughout these four years with internships and mentorships they find along the way.


This article is just the beginning of a series of articles I'm hoping to publish about networking and creating opportunities for ourselves as high school students.


I joined InnovaYouth's executive board because I believe in InnovaYouth's mission of helping other students. My contact info is on my profile so don't hesitate to shoot me an email or a text if you think I could help you!


[1] “The Role of Higher Education in Career Development: Employer Perceptions,” The Chronicle of Higher Education (December 2012), http://www.chronicle.com/items/biz/pdf/Employers%20Survey.pdf

[2] “Beginning College Students Who Change Their Majors Within 3 Years of Enrollment,” U.S. Department of Education (December 2017), https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2018/2018434.pdf

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