Polygence blog / Research Opportunities and Ideas

Exploring Career Options Before College: A Crucial Step Toward Your Future

4 minute read

All of us have been in this situation: You enter an ice cream shop, and see a dazzling array of familiar and new flavors. Before deciding on an order, you need to try a couple of flavors to see if they match your taste. If you’re like me, you’ll get sample after sample (after sample) until you feel satisfied with your decision.

When it comes to discovering the appropriate career path, it can be akin to sampling various ice cream flavors in order to determine which one aligns with your preferences. Through exploration, you gradually gain more insight into your preferences, allowing you to make a more informed decision about which career path to pursue in the future. 

Importance of Exploring Career Options While in High School

In my high school experience, I experimented with every job I could apply to. I worked as a proctor for SAT exams, tried my hand as a chess teacher, and had a brief tenure as the editor-in-chief of a local news periodical. While I did not end up pursuing any of these avenues as long-term career paths, each experience was invaluable in helping me understand the type of work I could see myself doing in the future. 

High school is a time of self-discovery, growth, and exciting possibilities. While it's true that college is often seen as the next logical step after high school, it's essential to explore different career options before making any commitments. As you choose a major or concentration of study, career exploration will be a powerful tool in identifying your unique interests, strengths, and passions. As an undergraduate at Brown, we were often encouraged to try different internships and extracurriculars each semester to do just that.

Career exploration is worth your attention because it enables you to comprehend your interests, strengths, and passions, resulting in a more satisfying and prosperous career. Making well-informed decisions regarding your college major or career path is crucial to prevent the need to change direction later on, which can prove costly and time-consuming. Looking into various career options before heading to college can offer valuable hands-on experience, allowing you to affirm whether a particular path suits you.

How to Explore Different Career Options As a High School Student

Now, let's delve into four practical steps to start your career exploration journey while you’re in high school:

1. Self-Assessment

Reflect on your interests, skills, and values. What subjects do you excel in? What activities or hobbies do you enjoy? Identifying these elements will help narrow down potential career paths. If you need some help facilitating your assessment, career discovery mentorship programs are an excellent way to get expert support and guidance.

The Polygence Pathfinders Program

Pathfinders is a career discovery mentorship experience designed to help you explore different career paths and gain more clarity about your future. Learn from three world class mentors in the fields of your choice and discover your passions!

2. Career Assessment Tests

Consider taking career assessment tests, available online or through your school's guidance counselor. These tests can provide insights into suitable career options based on your personality, interests, and strengths. Personality tests can also offer good basic insights into the types of roles you would be best suited for. 

3. Research

Research what you are passionate about, but don’t let a lack of immediate passion stop you from starting the process. Utilize online resources, books, and documentaries to learn about topics of interest. Crucially, use resources offered by Polygence to tailor your own research project, and find ways to showcase this work. As you research, be open to finding jobs, fellowships, internships, or similar opportunities by the types of organizations that perform similar research. 

Polygence’s Student Programs and Opportunities Database is a great resource to use while conducting your research. 

4. Networking

As a high school student, you may think that networking is something that can wait until the distant future. However, it's worth noting that building relationships and making connections is something that can never start soon enough. Particularly, invest time in relationships with your Polygence mentors – they often have networks of their own that will prove useful as you begin your career search.

Get an Early Start on Career Exploration

By identifying your genuine career interests early on, you can avoid the necessity of shifting majors or career paths later in college. This not only saves precious time but also valuable resources. Additionally, a comprehensive understanding of your career objectives can assist you in selecting appropriate high school courses and extracurricular activities that can enrich your college application and prepare you for triumph in your preferred field. Career exploration and discovery can boost your self-esteem and motivation by presenting a clear and distinct vision of your future.

Remember that it's okay to take your time and explore different avenues – the journey to discovering your ideal career can be as exciting as the destination. So, start your exploration today, and embrace the possibilities that await you! Your future self will thank you for it.

Work with an expert mentor to explore your passion

At Polygence, we precisely match you with a mentor in your area of interest. Together, you can explore and deepen your passions.