MINT HILL, NC – Two weeks ago, Tony Long presented his ideas on helping prepare the youth of Mint Hill for the future through apprenticeships and internships. Where do we go from here? Tony Long and a team of local business, government, and education leaders should connect to coordinate and develop the next steps in this journey of opportunity.
Career planning and exploration for high schoolers is certainly a challenge. The high school years seem to go very quickly for many students. Therefore, starting sooner is a better alternative than later. During the students’ freshman or sophomore year, they should at minimum begin thinking about what they might enjoy doing after high school. For some students, college is their only option, while others seek different roads. Traditional 4-year college programs, a 2-year college, technical or trade schools, military, apprenticeships, or working in the family business are all options.
Most young people require some preparation before they’re ready to enter the workforce; thus, planning should begin sooner. Of course, maturity, parental guidance, and school guidance counselors should play an important role. But how does a community mentor, a local business owner, manager or executive fit into this equation to benefit the individual high schooler in their quest for guidance and direction?
The students could be taking technical courses during high school, or, after graduating, attending a college or university to earn a certificate or a degree. However, where local businesses and governments can make a difference is offering internships, apprenticeships, jobs, and other opportunities for gaining valuable marketable experience. Really knowing what type of career preparation you will need begins with young high school students thinking more about what their interests are and the type of career path they want to pursue.
Students should begin exploring their personal interests in high school. Many high schoolers don’t know what they want to do with their lives and careers, which is perfectly fine. In fact, students can change their minds several times, perhaps even after they enter the workforce. Also, some of tomorrow’s future careers might not exist today. Therefore, focusing solely on one occupation is not necessary. However, it’s a start, a way to gain real-world experience that will help set them up for success. Students should explore careers and invest some time learning about their particular interests and skills required to be successful in any worthwhile endeavor.
High schoolers should learn more about themselves, what they enjoy, and what they are good at. Is it science? If so, what do you enjoy about it? Maybe it’s the lab work, the research, data collection, and analysis? If it’s mechanics, machinery, electronics, computers, whatever – what is it that draws you to have a particular interest in this area? Do you prefer hands-on learning, enjoy tinkering, building things, helping people – so many other likes can be considered. I presume the reader gets the point: follow your interests and passion because the purpose of thinking about a career is to enter into the workforce waking up every morning and look forward to going to work doing what you enjoy.
Therefore, identifying possible careers and doing your homework while gaining valuable on-the-job experience through internships, apprenticeships, and other opportunities will prepare you to make better and more informed decisions that will last a lifetime.