By Tim Martin | August 31, 2023, at 10:00 a.m.

Most of us have been asked the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” by our loved ones at some point in life.

It’s not uncommon to know adults who can’t provide a clear answer either, but society often expects teenagers to have a clear plan by the time they turn 18.

The question is not always asked to obtain a precise answer, but rather to encourage thought and reflection about the student’s future.

The reality is that most people will not have this same experience and will eventually discover their true passions and career paths in their 20s, 30s, or 40s. Everyone’s journey is different.

Students need to explore career options, as people now have multiple careers in their lifetime, based on research.

Exploring different career options is crucial for preparing students not just for success after high school, but also for their ability to adapt in their future professions. Choosing the right college based on your major and career goals is crucial for long-term success.

What Is Career Exploration?Researching job market trends is a good way to prepare for future opportunities, especially for a high school student who is choosing a career pathway.

The economy is ever-evolving as technology transforms how people work and what kinds of jobs exist.

It is impossible to know precisely what the job market will look like when current high school students are ready to enter the workforce.

Research the job market trends to prepare for future opportunities and determine which areas of study will be important.

Keep in mind that new jobs may emerge in the future.

A high school student is uncovering her skills, knowledge, and values in cooking through career exploration and career planning, and she is hoping to be a well-known head chef someday.Why Is Career Exploration Important for Career Planning?

Making informed decisions about career path options is based on self-awareness and opportunity awareness.

It helps students uncover the skills, knowledge, and values required for each job they are considering. 

Exploring professions gives students important information about job roles, conditions, training, and salaries, helping them make informed decisions.

How to Choose a Career Path?Part-time work as a high school student allows her to discover careers that interest her and allow her to use her skills.

Students must discover careers that interest them and allow them to use their skills.

It involves a thorough environmental analysis and encouraging students to reflect on themselves and the various job opportunities they have discovered.

Students can test drive their career of choice through job shadowing, part-time work, volunteer experience, school club, or even developing a new hobby.

These experiences can help them decide whether this career pathway is compatible with their values, skills, and interests.

A high school student is developing a new hobby in pottery that allows him to reflect on his skills, interests, knowledge, and values, as well as the various job opportunities he has discovered.Why is career exploration important for high school students?

When students have a clear objective, a belief that it can be reached, and a well-thought-out strategy to get there, it confirms that the goal is within reach.

Although not every student who dreams of traveling to the moon will become an astronaut, career exploration shows them that there is a path that leads to that outcome.

Even if the process is challenging and doesn’t suit the student, there’s always the possibility of discovering something even better. Valuable lessons can be learned not only from success but also from failures.

The beauty of career exploration is that it can help build confidence as post-secondary education plans are developed. Students can change their goals if they find them unsuitable and pursue new interests.

Free download of Student Self-Assessment for College Planning.