It’s the one question we’ve all been asked, and it’s the one question that can be tough to answer.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Figuring out your career ambitions is no small task, but we’ve got 7 steps you can take to help prepare for life beyond high school.
STEP 1: Get oriented
Career planning is an ongoing process: it starts by really understanding your own interests, skills and abilities.
Self-assessment tools can help you identify what’s important to you. From online quizzes to mobile apps, these resources can help you figure out who you are, what motivates you and why.
STEP 2: Get exploring
The world is your oyster, but it’s a good idea to narrow your focus and find an area that really sparks your interest.
TalentEgg Career Guides are online hubs of information related to different industries across Canada: they contain helpful articles, video profiles and other information (like average starting salary guides) to help you to research the industries that may be of interest to you.
Start by exploring different industries to get a sense of the different kinds of work out there. Whether it’s healthcare, oil and gas, retail or consumer packaged goods, there are countless fields to consider.
STEP 3: Get specific
Exploring your options early is a great way start developing your ideal career profile and determine your goals.
Once you’ve found an egg-citing industry, research employers within the field to get a feel for the different kinds of environments and opportunities available to you.
Think of it this way: you don’t want to base your decisions on a vague “dream job” – instead, you want to fill in the blanks with real-life examples.
Find 4-5 employers in your industry of choice and investigate each company’s online presence, including their website, social media accounts and TalentEgg profile.
The goal here is to get a general overview of each company on your list – from mission to workplace culture – to better inform your career preferences.
STEP 4: Get inspired
We all need someone to look up to. Finding a career role model is a sure-fire way to jumpstart your goals and aspirations.
As you begin to realize which areas are of interest to you, keep an eye out for key players, influencers and leaders who you can draw professional inspiration from.
Whether it’s the CFO of a global enterprise or a Creative Director at a boutique advertising agency, seek them out and follow along – subscribe to their blog, watch their TED Talk, follow them on Twitter or look them up on LinkedIn.
Use their professional story as inspiration for your own career journey.
STEP 5: Get connected
Employers use social media to research and identify potential candidates, so understanding basic social media etiquette is always a good idea.
- Keep your accounts PG – if you aren’t sure, ask someone whose opinion you value to stay connected to your social portfolio (Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Vine) to monitor your accounts for anything that might be seen as inappropriate.
- Use better profile pictures – if you can, try to take a nice headshot or feature an appropriate photo. Your profile picture is often the first impression others have of you, so no beach selfies.
- Proofread your posts – doing so will help you be taken seriously and can demonstrate your ability to communicate effectively and pay attention to detail.
- Always be positive and engaging – highlight the good stuff (no ranting or bad-mouthing), post often (but not too often) and share content that not only reflects your personality, interests and values, but those of your followers too.
Who you are online says a lot about who you are offline, so building a strong online presence for yourself can help you hatch a career down the road.
STEP 6: Get involved
Volunteering in your local community can help you build your resume, develop skills and prove to employers that you are a well-rounded candidate.
Whether you’re planning a fundraiser for a social justice club (event planning), helping out around the office (administrative skills) or tutoring your peers (interpersonal skills), getting involved can help you get ahead.
To take a more direct approach, look for volunteer opportunities outside of school that can offer you an inside look at your area of career interest – if you’re thinking of pursuing a career in law, try to volunteer at a legal aid clinic. Interested in healthcare? Apply to be a volunteer at your local hospital or care centre. Exposing yourself to your industry of choice early on can help you determine whether it’s the right fit for you.
STEP 7: Get creative
Employers are always looking for candidates who are curious, self-motivated and take initiative: DIY opportunities are a unique way to gain career-boosting skills, expand your knowledge and set yourself apart early on.
You’ve already started to figure out where you might want your career to go, so why not create your own opportunities to help you get there?
Find out what unique and in-demand job skills are required for success in your chosen industry and seek out ways to master them. From YouTube videos to webinars, there are tons of resources and tools to take advantage of.