“I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up!”
That’s the most common complaint I hear from high school students. However, as a college planner, I believe it’s completely unreasonable to expect a 16 or 17-year-old to know what they want to do professionally for the rest of their lives. After all, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person will change careers an average of seven times throughout his or her lifetime.
Careers. Not jobs… Careers. That’s a lot of changing directions and starting over.
However, while I understand high school students can’t possibly have a firm grasp on their future careers at such a young age (after all, I certainly didn’t. I am a career-changer, so I can relate), I also think they should have as much knowledge about the job market and careers that interest them as possible so they can make an informed decision. And hopefully, an informed decision will cut back on the number of times they change careers. My goal is to help students at least pick the best career cluster for them. They can’t expect to choose the exact job they’ll have for the rest of their lives, but I would at least like to see them in an appropriate field.
As a college consultant, I am a big proponent of job shadowing, internships and summer jobs (in a field of interest). That is the first thing I recommend to clients because it’s a great way to get their feet wet in a career they think might interest them. And the experience will help them either rule that field in or out. If students have absolutely no idea what career they’d like to pursue, I will give them two assessments, a Personality test and a Career Cluster test, and then combine the results of both to give students an idea of what careers best suit their abilities, interests and strengths.
It also helps to know what careers are popular right now and why.
The STEM (Science, technology, engineering and math) and healthcare fields are the fastest growing according to data from College Factual. The College Factual article suggested that students who have STEM majors tend to go on to well-paying careers that closely align with the skills they learned in college. They are less likely to be underemployed and more likely to be earning a competitive wage.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released a list of the fastest-growing occupations in the U.S. The top spot went to wind turbine service technicians. Other STEM careers, as well as healthcare jobs, included forensic science technicians, physical therapists, physician assistants, audiologists, and optometrists.
STEM and healthcare weren’t the only fields to make the list, though. Business-related careers or jobs in finance also made the cut (financial advisers and operations research analysts).
I encourage students with questions about choosing a major (or anything about the college application process), to contact me, and I will be happy to walk them through this exciting, yet stressful and confusing, process. One of the best parts of my job is helping students to solve that age-old dilemma of what they’ll be when they grow up!