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The Dos and Don’ts of Career Planning and How to Get Started

We’ve all heard this question before, from family, teachers, mentors… Some of you may know your answer but this one is for the students who are not quite sure yet.

 We know how it feels to not have the answer (yet) and can definitely relate to that lingering pressure of having to have it all figured out. You may be asking yourself “what do I want to do?” and trying to figure it out without any idea of where to start can be intimidating. Well, let us help you get started! Here are some dos and don’ts that we want to share for career planning.

DO research

The first step to career planning is looking into what’s out there. Now, when we say “research,” it doesn’t mean that you have to write up a report. It’s not the same as the research you’d do for school – we don’t mean you need to cite your work. Research is as simple as exploring the options available and finding out more about those options. After all, how will you figure out what your best fit is if you don’t know what’s out there for you?

So where do you go looking? Researching careers is easier than you think and it can start right at your fingertips. Seriously, there is always career content on Instagram or Tiktok. It’s as easy as typing in a job title and you’ll find people working in that field. You could even start with going onto YouTube and searching “A Day in the Life of (insert career you want to explore further here).”  

More formalized resources that can help you get started with researching include:

DO connect with people and ask questions

Take your research a step further and talk to someone about their career! Chatting with someone IRL can give you better insight into a career because they can share their first-hand experience, give you advice, and answer questions that the internet might not be able to. Better yet, connecting with people could open up new doors for you.

If you’re not sure where to start, try talking to the people in your social circle. Is there anyone who works in a career you are interested in? Maybe you have a relative, family friend, or a friend’s parent that works in a job that you want to learn more about! Your teachers and school counsellor(s) are also great people to chat with.

In addition to your own connections, consider coming to a CAREERS event where employers and industry professionals are already present. We make it easy for you to connect with people in the field, all you have to do is attend 😉.

To see what’s happening near you, take a peek at our events calendar:

DO step out of your comfort zone

We get it, new opportunities can absolutely be a little nerve wracking sometimes because well, they’re new, but they also help us gain really great skills and experiences! If there’s something that you’ve been thinking about trying, whether it’s a different class, club, or after school activity – we say, just do it! You won’t know how it goes until you try and put your best foot forward 😊.

On the career front, consider trying new things through job shadowing, volunteering or perhaps participating in a paid internship with CAREERS!  We truly think high school is the best time to step out of your comfort zone because you still have all the supports around you if things don’t go as planned.

DON’T compare yourself to others

In a world where we are constantly connected, it’s easy to get caught up with what everyone else is doing. However, when it comes to career planning, do your own thing. Everyone will have their own path, including you!

Career paths look different for everyone, based on skill set, interests, values, and more. What works for your friend won’t necessarily be the same for you. Take the opportunity to get to know yourself better and figure out YOUR best fit.

DON’T think that you won’t stumble a bit

It can be really overwhelming to think about the next 5, 10, 20 years of your life. So contrary to popular belief, we’re here to tell you (or remind you) that you don’t actually have to have everything figured out right away! You might not think it but career planning is not linear. Think of it like a video game – there are side quests, challenges and sometimes you have to backtrack to move forward. In fact, did you know that the average person has about 12 jobs in their lifetime? And I’m here to share another secret… Even most adults are trying to figure it all out still, even if it seems like they have it everything “together”.

Our tip is to start small. Instead of thinking about the decades ahead of you, consider the next six months. What goals do you have for yourself? Where do you envision yourself? Do you want to save some money? Increase your social skills? From there, you can slowly begin to think about the next steps.

That said, another tip is to break down the bigger picture. There seems to be this pressure to pick a CAREER but what many students aren’t told is that many post-secondary programs can lead to a broad range of careers. Start with looking into different education programs, identify one or two that interest you (think: what do I want to learn about more?) and go from there. Where you work and what job you take on will be part of the journey but you don’t have to know all that right now.

We know, career planning can be tough, but truthfully the first step is to just start. We hope these tips can help you feel more confident about beginning. Remember to reach out to us or your off-campus coordinator/student counsellors if you have any questions. We’re here to help YOU! Good luck!


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