When it comes to choosing a path, it's very common for teens to feel somewhat paralyzed by the idea of figuring out what type of job to pursue, let alone making decisions about a college major or career. A good first step is to take a deep breath and relax. You don't need to decide immediately what you're going to be doing for the rest of your life. The main thing is to start taking some small steps to figure out what you think you might like to do or what job you might be best suited for. What's the worst thing that can happen?
With that in mind, let's take a look at ways to narrow your employment focus:
Deciding on goals for a job search becomes simpler if you think of the four most important components of choosing your path: Values, Interests, Personality, and Skills.
Value: What is important to you as a person? Co-workers? Making a difference? Job hour? Corporation or small business?
Interests: What makes you happy? If money weren't an issue, how would you spend your time?
Personality: Are you outgoing or reserved? Big-picture or detail-oriented? Laid-back or fast-paced?
Skills: What are you good at? Debate issues? Volunteering? Writing? Event planing? Solving problems? Your parents and counselors can help find several career paths simply based on your strongest responses to these questions and observations.
Caveats When Choosing Your Path
If you asked 1,000 teens about their interests, there are several themes you will hear all of the time: Popular music, television, shows, shopping, and professional sports. This "Glamorous Industry Syndrome" influences teens to pursue careers in these popular interests, such as working for a professional sports team or for their favorite radio station.
Most of the time, jobs and internships in these glamorous fields are unpaid and are extremely hard to get, although it is not impossible. You just have to be willing to make sacrifices to get there.
A great example is Caleb Ginsberg. Recognizing that he would never acquire the skills needed to play baseball professionally, he decided to have a career in sports. He worked countless unpaid hours with minor league teams, and after graduating, landed a position with the New York Yankees. Currently, he's with the National Football League Players Association.
However, it's important to realize this career path did not happen overnight; a lot of hard work and connections were the keys to his success. So if you want to be in this glamorous field -- and even if you don't -- start taking active steps now. Blog, volunteer, take initiative!
One other caveat: Choosing a job or internship does not commit you for the rest of your life in that field. Try several different jobs and internships, and change your mind if you need to; this is your opportunity to discover what you like or dislike before you enter into a long-term career.