Choosing a Career
Identifying your post-secondary career goals early in your high school career can help you select courses that will promote these goals. The most important piece of the career puzzle is finding information about yourself - your interests, your abilities, and your work values. MHS students will begin the exploration process in ninth grade, and will keep portfolios to take with them when they graduate.
Step One - Interests. All freshmen participate in career testing sometime during the year. Students will take the assessments available on www.VaWizard.org. Originally created by the Community College system, this site has recently been expanded to include 4-year college and local employment information. Students are welcome and encouraged to view the resources on this site. Another excellent site for free career exploration and exploration is www.vaview.vt.edu . This is another state-sponsored side with activities and local information.
Alternatively, one can complete an on-line interest inventory at www.careerkey.org for a small fee. Both yield accurate results and suggest job titles to investigate.
Step Two - Abilities. All juniors are encouraged to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), usually offered in the winter. While it is used by military recruiters to identify students with skills utilized in the military, students have ABSOLUTELY NO OBLIGATION to respond positively to any inquiries from recruiters. The ASVAB remains a valuable tool in identifying your own areas of strength; it compares your skills to those of similarly aged students. Students who do not wish to take the ASVAB but would like to identify their skills may contact the Guidance Office for an alternate assessment. See www.asvabprogram.com for more information about the ASVAB and also for other excellent career information.
Step Three - Work Values. While the size of a paycheck is often enough to make a job worthwhile, other features such as environment, traveling, and benefits also have an impact. Identifying the features you MUST have and those you'd like to have will greatly affect your satisfaction. Interested students can complete the Work Values Inventory on the Wizard site, or a self-assessment at home.
Step Four - Research. The best first source of career field information is the Occupational Outlook Handbook. The Media Center has printed copies. It can also be accessed on-line at www.bls.gov/oco/home.htm . Each entry includes job descriptions, work environment, training requirements, earnings, employment outlook, related occupations, and other sources of information.
Step Five - Putting Yourself Out There. You've done an amazing amount of work and now have a direction. Try it out by: Volunteering or Working - the best way to find out what you like and don't like about a job is trying it; Taking courses in high school and college - try new things; Talking to people in the field - if you can't immediately try it for yourself, talk to people who have. See your counselor to discuss options.
Step One - Where the Jobs Are
* Newspapers - the Southside Sentinel comes out on Thursdays - and the help wanted ads are online
* Networking - this is a fancy word for telling friends and family you're looking for work, and ask if they know of any openings. They'll tell their friends who will tell their friends, and... (you get the idea). Having someone recommend you also increases your chances of being selected.
* Stopping at a business, completing an application, and waiting for an opening.
Step Two - Completing Applications
* ALWAYS dress appropriately, even if you're just dropping by for a minute. First impressions last. Consider this your first interview.
* Be polite and respectful to EVERYONE you meet - again because of first impressions. Also, receptionists and secretaries may have more say in the hiring process than you realize.
* Bring information you are likely to need: social security number, names, addresses, and phone numbers of references and past employers, salary requirements.
* Always ask the people you will be using for references for their permission to be used as a reference - and be sure they will recommend you positively (they might like you personally, but think you would be a lazy employee).
Step Three - Interviewing
* ALWAYS dress appropriately.
* Research typically asked questions and prepare your answers in advance.