“So do you have a career in mind?”
Seems like this is the only relevant question people find to ask young people as they’re going through high school. It’s never fun to answer. In fact, I always got a bit of a panicky feeling as I’d pass on some scripted reply about wanting to find myself and launch a career I loved.
If you’re worried about your career, now is the time to put your worries to rest.
You’re not the only one!
First, you’re not alone. Every young person around your age is being grilled on the same topic by their parents’ concerned friends. If they’ve been able to succeed as they’ve gone through life, you can too! Besides, we’re going to give you a list of tools and skills you can start building now, regardless of your level of career experience or
Stop worrying about getting stuck in something you hate!
Secondly, even if you start building skills in one area, and experimenting with a certain career path, there’s no reason you have to be stuck in one career path for the rest of your life.
This is a major fear most young people I know face. In today’s world, it’s good to be able to adapt. And it’s never been more possible to explore multiple careers. You could take a year deep-diving into coding and launch a career in software development. Or you could experiment with social media management for a while before transitioning into a sales role at a tech startup.
Especially in the early years of your career, it’s good to invest in multiple skills and experiences. Take your time experimenting with what you enjoy. Document what you’re doing consistently and be open to new ideas and paths! You’ll be more fulfilled this way than if you immediately lock yourself into something specific.
Learn how to build a story arc!
Thirdly, it’s easy to build a narrative arc around skills that you have built in high school. If you’ve studied literature enough, you’ll know a narrative arc is the pattern you can watch in a story as the plot unfolds. It’s the structure that pulls each seemingly unconnected detail into the final destination of the story. (Psst…Here’s another awesome resource on creating your own narrative arc.)
If you look at each opportunity as its own destination, then you can build a narrative arc leading to that destination. Even the pieces of your high school experience that are seemingly unconnected to your career can be baked into a pretty cool story arc that always ends at the destination of the next opportunity you’re searching for.
Here’s an example of a simple story arc.
For my entire childhood, I was the kid that wanted to do everything. One day I wanted to be a firefighter, so I’d build a small bonfire in the backyard and drench it with water from a bucket just because. Another day I decided I was going to be a queen and rule a country, so I cut elephant ears and hired my little sisters as maids to fan me with the elephant ears. Donning my feathers and crown, I gloriously sat in my imaginary throne and ruled the entire population of India quite happily.
As I got older, this career exploration became more serious. I went on a psychology kick for a long time in high school. My research papers were focused on body language. I read at least 10-15 books solely related to different aspects of psychology during that 6-month period.
These are only a couple examples of what led me into exploring business through a non-traditional route. I completed the Praxis program before I came onto the team as a social media manager. From there, I worked my way up into content strategy and coaching roles. My dream is coming true- at 19 years old I am building a career in many different routes: copywriting, coaching, social media management, content strategy, writing, and graphic design, to name a few. (I also know that if I want to build new skills, I still have the time to do so.)
Could I have put this into words before now? Absolutely not. That narrative arc is going to change often as I grow. This basic story arc I just gave you is based on the opportunity I have in front of me at this moment: getting you to read this article!
How this applies to your career.
But how does the narrative arc tie into possible skills and career paths that high school students today can consider? Glad you asked. Even the things your parents said wouldn’t be helpful to your development may turn out to your advantage, if you start building skills that tie into the strengths from each activity!
So let’s break down some of the high school stereotypes and explore skills that each group would excel in. Don’t worry: these are just a couple ideas of career paths that you can set out on. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that you can create your own career. These are just launchpads to get you started as you’re figuring out where to go next!
You’ve always been analytical. You spend time thinking about ideas, and you don’t quickly knock a new thought down before coming up with a deep answer.
Possible skills/ career paths:
- Content Strategy. Because of your ability to look at problems in the big picture, you’ll be great at putting together ideas for content that businesses can use. Content strategy is a world of thinking 5 steps ahead of the game, planning out what’s going to resonate with the people that are hungry for solid information to consume.
- Operations. Operations is all about problem-solving. In a role like this, you’ll make sure the company is running smoothly in every area. In Operations, you’ll be able to deep-dive into research, processes, and new ideas!
- SEO.Every company needs an employee that is an expert in Search Engine Optimization. In today’s world, it matters who ranks on Google! Because you love research and problem-solving, you’ll love the world of SEO.
The Theater Kid
Your background in theater gives you an edge in relating to other people. You’ve studied emotion and put it into real life.
Possible skills/ career paths:
- Customer Service. You’re great with people. And you’d be surprised how much businesses value this! Customer service could be the perfect career launchpad for you. Anybody who has strong customer service skills is highly likely to succeed in other roles that involve reaching people, like marketing and sales!
- Software Sales. What does software have to do with acting? One of the main things you’ll do in software sales is demo products, which is in a sense a performance. With your background in theater, you’ll have a leg up on this industry. Besides, software sales is hot right now, and with a little experience and a lot of grit, you can quickly build a career in this space.
Your strong point has been telling stories about other people. You spend time analyzing how the world goes around in order to capture that on paper for others to enjoy. Through words, you can make people cry or laugh. You can inspire them to think deeply about large issues that surround them. Frankly, you’ve got a lot of power in your hands!
Possible skills/ career paths:
- Ghostwriting. It’s obvious that you’ll succeed in any area that pertains to writing. But there are very specific careers that writers can thrive in that you may never have thought about. Ghostwriting is one example of this. Simply put, you get paid to write for another writer. You don’t get credited for the work, but ghostwriting is one of the most profitable writing careers you can build!
- Copywriting. Copywriting is writing to cause some action. Today’s world is all about web presence. And what do companies need a web presence for? To gain more customers and drive more potential customers to action. So in short, copywriting is one of the main tools businesses today need to drive conversions all over the web.
- Social Media Marketing. One of the greatest areas that copywriting is useful is the area of social media marketing. In a role like this, you’ll spend time writing and creating content that can be used on a company’s social media profiles. This also means watching the way people relate to each other on each individual platform, meaning you’ll get to practice the analytical side of your writing ability as well as the actual creative side!
The Choir/Band Kid
You know what it takes to make a team flow smoothly together. You’re confident in your strengths but know how to harmonize well when someone else has This skill in itself is essential to any great career, but let’s dive into some specific strengths you can build because of your experience working with musicians.
Possible skills/ career paths:
- Operations. In operations, you’ll manage the way company systems operate. You’ll work with many different teams throughout the company, making sure they have the tools they need to get their work done.
- Workflow Management. You’ll naturally be good at this, given your time spent learning to work well in a large group of people. Workflow management includes finding tools that make your workflow easier, building your time management, and many more skills that employers highly value in people but don’t often find.
- Systems building. What does it take to make this funnel convert better? How can we transfer our CRM to SalesForce? Is there a tool our entire team can collaborate on while we’re completing this project? Someone has to answer these questions, and you’ll make yourself irreplaceable at a company if you’re the one they think of when they need a system built.
The Math Nerd
There aren’t many of you left in the world anymore. Not only do you love numbers, but you think about everything in terms of formulas and data.
Possible skills/ career paths:
- Data Analytics. This is a skill that every company needs, badly. Without someone to analyze the data coming in, a business is left flying by the seat of its pants. Experiments are pointless if you can’t see the tangible results they are producing. And rest assured, data analytics involves a multitude of numbers!
- Tech Support. Every company is a tech company now. Additionally, the number of startups that offer tech products continue to increase daily. If you enjoy the problem-solving aspect of math, a tech support role could be perfect for you.
- Programming. I had to mention the obvious. Programming languages communicate similarly to the language of Math. Furthermore, programming is another example of a career that relies heavily on problem-solving skills!
What? Gaming could launch you a career? Of course! You’ve gained multiple skills through your gaming experience that you can translate to the workforce quickly.
- Video production. Think of all the great graphics you’ve had access to while gaming. Take a couple video courses. Play around with animation tools like Animaker or Videoscribe to see if you’re a fit for this kind of a career.
- Video Editing. It’s similar to the world of games, except you’ll be creating the video experience instead of living in it. If you’re not sure that you’ll be good at this, experiment on small projects with free tools like OpenShot. This is another great example of a skill that’s in high demand at every company today!
- Web development. To be a good web developer, you have to be good at seeing the big picture. Fortunately, that’s something you’ve built through your gaming experience. Try your hand at coding first to see if you’ll be
The Meme King
You’re the guy everyone thought was wasting his time. But your ability to find humor in anything will pay off if you play your cards well! Here are some skills you can build that are directly related to your love for memes:
- Social Media Marketing. You know intuitively what goes viral. The principles of vitality are easily transferrable to a marketing role, especially one that directly involves the social media platforms that memes perform well on!
- Content Marketing. The same skills that give you the edge in social media marketing will help you succeed in a content marketing position. Start by paying attention to how other companies make content go viral. Gary Vee’s content strategy is a great place to start your research.
- Graphic Design If the creative side of memes was what appealed to you, a graphic design role could be a great fit for you! Check out these free tools if you want to get started without having to invest too much money into courses right away.
You’re the one nobody really understood. You just never really fit in. Congratulations! You can see breaking the mold; it’s just going to take a lot of hard work.
- Entrepreneurship. Let’s face it. You were strong enough to go against the crowd. You’re probably cut out to start a business of your own someday. Try this exercise to get started.
- Freelance. You’re accustomed to striking out on your own. If the thought of working for yourself makes you excited, try building a career in freelance. This gives you experience in a field you’re excited about, and can prepare you for possibly starting a larger business in the future.
Ah, the creative one. You’re the person everybody wishes they were. While many romanticize the idea of spending hours working on art, you appreciate the time and work that actually goes into the reality of an artist’s life.
- Graphic Design. Art. Design. They go together easily. If you’ve got the knack for it and want to invest in yourself, check out Coursera or Udemy for some great courses to get you started diving deeper into this field.
- Social Media Marketing. Exercise your creative skills every single day in a social media marketing role. The design element is a huge part of reaching people through social platforms. Besides, you’ll build many more marketable skills while experimenting in this type of role, like copywriting and analytics!
- Video production. Try this out if you’d like to expand your art portfolio! Many artists I know have the specific skill set it takes to view the world through a lens, then communicate that world to the people who will watch the video. Besides,anything to do with video marketing will be huge for you no matter what career you build later.
The Debate Kid.
You’re the one that could out-talk anybody. You’ve endured the stress of many a competition, but you wonder if the only place debate is useful is in politics. Absolutely not!
- Sales. In debate, you’re selling an idea to a judge. In sales, you’re selling a product to a customer. Many of the same skills apply: just make sure you’re also a good listener! Sales is essential no matter where you’re headed in your career- just go ahead and try it out.
- Public Speaking I categorize this as a skill you should build early in your career, not as a career path you should immediately try to set out on. Grab as many speaking gigs as possible. Be open about your desire to build this skill, and you’ll be surprised at how many opportunities come your way. People love seeing young people speak; take advantage of this fact and start building the skill now!
- Copywriting. Copywriting is the art of writing words that drive people to take action. Remember in your debates when you finished the closing statement urging the judges to vote for your side of the issue? That’s what you’ll be doing through your writing. Just learn how to use the written word as well as you do the spoken word and you’ll be good to go.
The Grammar Geek
You shiver every time your friend’s use their apostrophe’s wrong on social media site’s. You have a strong opinion on the Oxford comma. Yeah, we all know who you are!
- Editing. Obviously. You tend to pick out mistakes that no one else notices.
- Ghostwriting. Since you already pay attention to detail, you’ll be extra talented when it comes to writing work for other people. As long as you don’t have an issue with another person being credited for your work, you’ll love the challenge and unique set of experiences that ghostwriting brings.
- Copywriting. There won’t ever be issues with grammar when you’re the one writing the copy! Break out your sales skills and learn how to use your words to drive people to action, and you should be good to go!
The Skater Kid
Can’t forget you. Actually, most of us can identify with you, even if it was only a week-long phase. But you’re the real deal. And yes, there are careers you’re specifically cut out for if you were the one everyone knew as the skater.
- Freelance. You adapt to many situations. You’re a free spirit. You’re accustomed to working hard on a specific skill. You don’t like to have others dictate your hours. Yep! You’ll be good at building a career by working for yourself! Sites like Upwork can connect you to many businesses that need young people like you. Just don’t forget to build marketable skills that companies need!
- Sales. You’re a go-getter and don’t let anything get you down. You’ll probably love sales, as it’s one of the most fast-paced, exciting jobs on the market today. And again, this is a highly marketable skill that every company is searching for today.
The Sports Enthusiast
Competition is your game. You will let nothing stop you. You’ve failed over and over again, trained for hours at a time, and felt the power of a win like no one can understand.
- Coaching. No one has overcome as many obstacles as you have. Especially with your experience working with a team, you have the unique ability to understand other people’s issues and help them overcome each obstacle they face. Start building the essential skills that are needed for a coaching job today by volunteering as a sports coach or a camp counselor!
- Sales. Failure is something you have to know how to deal with in sales. But you know what they say: the faster you fail, the faster you succeed. Because of this key, you should be able to build sales skills much faster than the average high school grad!
- Customer Service. Teamwork. Understanding what another person needs. Yes, these are great skills for a customer service role. And you have a head start in all of these skills because of your sports experience!
Don’t stress out about what your career is going to look like in 5 years. Instead, start experimenting with skills and possible career paths that interest you today.
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