This is a question you have probably been asked many times, especially as a young child. It’s a simple yet important question and the first step to building your career.
Designed to measure your interests, abilities and aptitudes, career and self assessments offer useful insight to help identify clusters of study and careers for which you may be well suited. Get started by asking yourself the following questions.
- Do I like working closely with people?
- Do I like working with my hands?
- What I have always wanted to do with my life?
- Can I work unsupervised, or do I require a more structured learning environment?
- What are my personal strengths?
- What are my personal weaknesses?
- Do I have any skills or hobbies that I would like to extend into a profession?
Be honest with yourself as you answer these questions. If you do not like working closely with people, for instance, nursing is probably not the profession for you. If you have trouble deciding what career path to follow, try figuring out what you do not want to do. Sometimes finding the career that’s right for you means first determining what you do not want to do.
Don’t worry that the decision you make today is for the rest of your life. Your first real job after school will likely not be your last. In reality, most people will make several career changes in their lifetimes. Still to move forward today and to be ultimately successful in the future, it is important to have a sense of who you are, your skills, aptitudes and interests.
Online Assessment Tools
Once you have a sense of your interests, abilities and aptitudes, it’s time to explore and discover careers that interest you. The following resources can help you get started.
Hands-on, work-based learning is critical to career readiness by helping students to:
- see the relevance of classroom learning
- explore various career interests
- gain insight and direction in determining a viable career path
- develop important job skills
- connect with potential employers
- understand workplace expectations
- acquire valuable real-world experience
A variety of Work-Based Learning options, also known as Extended Learning Opportunities in many South Carolina schools, are available to today’s students.
Apprenticeship is a formal relationship between an employer and employee during which the worker, or apprentice, is paid while learning a specific occupation in a structured program.
A Registered Apprenticeship is an adult educational program that is registered with the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training. The traditional apprenticeship programs are designed for adults and may be linked to an approved youth apprenticeship program in high school.
Youth Apprenticeship begins in the eleventh grade for students who are age 16 and older. A youth apprentice may matriculate to a registered apprenticeship program after high school. This type of apprenticeship may or may not include financial compensation.
Career/Job Shadowing is a short-term experience where a student will follow or “shadow” an employee
for a specified time as he/she performs normal work activities. By shadowing the employee, the student
is able to gain a better understanding of the requirements and responsibilities of a particular career.
Virtual Job Shadowing
Virtual Job Shadowing is an interactive career exploration tool that provides students with a behind-the-scenes look at various jobs through the computer. Individuals currently employed in a particular field offer an online tour of an occupation, showcasing needed skills, training, possible work schedules, typical duties, compensation and more.
Clinical Rotations provide students with opportunities to explore a variety of health careers, develop
knowledge and skills related to healthcare, and transition from the role of student to that of professional.
Students rotate among various departments of local healthcare facilities or community facilities to develop an awareness of the many related career opportunities. Unpaid work-based instructional opportunities must be planned and supervised cooperatively by the local education agency and the training sponsor. In the classroom, students are expected to master the essential knowledge and skills of health sciences coursework prior to participation in this experience. This learning experience usually occurs during the regular school day and is an integral component of a health sciences program.
Cooperative Education Programs
Cooperative Education Programs coordinate secondary or postsecondary studies with a job. Students and participating businesses develop a plan to align workplace activities with classroom instruction. Students receive course credit for classroom and work experiences.
An internship is a one-to-one relationship that provides “hands-on” learning based on a student’s career interest. The internship generally lasts from three to six months and may or may not include financial compensation.
School-Based Enterprises focus on the development of small businesses created, managed, and operated by students within the school setting. These ventures support the development of academic, technical, and entrepreneurial skills in an applied academic environment. School-Based Enterprises may be undertaken on or off school grounds.
Service Learning Activity
Service Learning Activity is a structured learning experience that models guidelines developed by the National and Community Service Trust Act (NACSTA). These activities generally focus on the four stages of preparation, action, reflection and celebration.
Structured Field Trips
Structured Field Trips are planned experiences that provide opportunities for students to explore different workplaces. Students are well-prepared beforehand to ask probing questions about employment opportunities, qualifications for employment, job descriptions, benefits associated with the job, types of services provided, and general information about the place of employment and its mission.
Work-Based Mentoring connects a student with a mentor (an employee of a business) who shares workplace skills and knowledge as a role model. The mentor instructs, critiques and challenges the student to perform well. He or she also works in consultation with the classroom teachers.
On-the-Job Tips for Work-Based Learning Experiences
Whether a job shadow, intern or full-time employer, expectations are the same. Check out these tips for professional and appropriate on-the-job behavior.
- Dress professionally
- Arrive on time
- Take something to write on and with
- Have a firm handshake
- Have good eye contact when talking with people
- Introduce yourself to employees
- Know about the company before you arrive
- Ask questions
- Get business cards from contacts you make