Your Future Starts Now
No matter your age, it can’t hurt to start thinking about your future. What are your interests? What things are important to you? Things that are important to you are called your values.
Whether you are interested in art, computers, medicine, or countless other possibilities, planning for your future is an ongoing process. It includes:
- Setting goals
- Taking risks
- Making choices
It is important to start the planning process now. Find out what classes you might need to take to reach your goals. For example, do you want to be a veterinarian? Then you will need to take math and science classes. And think about how you are doing in school — it is never too early to try your best with your future in mind.
Once you have some ideas of what you would like to do or learn more about, the next step is to find opportunities that give you experience and teach you about the field you are interested in. Whatever it is you want to do, there is help out there. You can get involved at school, get involved in your community, get a job, or join programs that will give you other opportunities.
Your school is a great resource with many clubs and activities you can join. Examples include student government, band, orchestra, choir, journalism, athletics, and clubs for the arts, drama, science, math, or languages. There are probably many more opportunities. Sometimes your school might offer special classes or programs for students.
How do you find out about these opportunities? You can start by asking teachers, guidance counselors, or a student activities coordinator. Don’t forget to ask other students, too! You can also listen for announcements and pay attention to flyers posted around the school. If your school has a web site, check it out to see if there is a listing for clubs and activities. If what you’re interested in is not offered at your school, talk to people — friends, teachers, or your parents — about options for starting a new club or activity!
School is not the only place to find these opportunities. There may be organizations in your community that offer programs. Many cities or communities offer sports leagues that are open to kids from different areas. Your local library, community centers, parks and recreation programs may have information about a variety of different opportunities.
Why get involved in extracurricular activities? You can explore interests and develop skills in areas in ways that may not be possible in your classes at school. You may have the opportunity to perform in a play or compete in a writing contest. Many activities help you develop your leadership skills, such as becoming the president of your club or editor of a newspaper. Lastly, you can meet new people and build friendships with other students with similar interests!
Volunteer in your community
Dedicating your time and talents to a good cause in your community can be a great way to develop your interests and skills while helping others at the same time. Some people volunteer because they want to change their community or world we live in, or to address an issue they think is important. Sometimes people volunteer to help others in need. Volunteering can also be noted on your resume and college applications. Many schools and potential employers think highly of community volunteers!
“Volunteering helps you become a better person.”
There are many different reasons for you to start volunteering:
Places to volunteer:
- Homeless shelter
- Animal shelter
- Food bank
- Senior citizen center
- State park
- Political campaign
- To help others
- To beat boredom
- To overcome a loss you have experienced
- To gain a perspective on life
- To meet new people and have fun while doing something good
No matter what your reasons, you can get a lot out of volunteering. You can learn about yourself, learn about others, and meet interesting people. You can help others as you help yourself.
Your high school may have a mandatory community service program. Look at it as a wonderful opportunity for you to get involved! Remember, it’s a chance for you to learn responsibility and experience — the satisfaction that comes with helping others!
Here are useful resources for learning about volunteer opportunities to match virtually any interest, from taking care of animals to raising money for disease research. You can also look for information at your school, local libraries and community centers, parks and recreation facilities, and religious institutions.
Get a job
Every year millions of teens work part-time or summer jobs. Having a job is a great opportunity to gain experience and valuable skills while earning some money at the same time. Many teens have jobs in areas such as baby-sitting, fast food, retail, and newspaper delivery — these, as well as other jobs, can teach you a great deal about leadership, time management, and responsibility.
Remember that your job should not come before your other responsibilities though. Working should not get in the way of school, family, your social life, or your health. Working too much can lead to not enough sleep, poor nutrition, and higher levels of stress. Plus, there are rules on the types of jobs teens can have and the number of hours they can work.
Writing a resume
A resume is a summary, usually one to two typed pages, of your experiences and education. You can send your resume to a job advertised in the newspaper or on the Internet, or you can bring it with you if you are applying somewhere in person (such as a restaurant or retail store). Often, you may also need to complete a job application, too, which is provided by the employer.
What should be included in my resume?
- Contact information (full name, address, telephone number, and email address). Be sure to use a professional email address because you want to be taken seriously! Party email@example.com would not be a good choice. You can start a new email address through a free email provider like Gmail or Hotmail and use that address just for job searches.
- A list of the jobs you’ve had and the dates when you worked at them (this can include baby-sitting and volunteer positions).
- Your education history (the name of your high school, college, and your graduation dates, if you’ve graduated).
- Any computer skills, languages spoken (if you speak more than one), or honors and awards you’ve received can be included on your resume.
- References can be included on your resume if you still have a lot of space to fill on the page. Typically, an employer will ask for three references. Choose your references wisely! Be sure to select people who know you well and will be taken seriously by your potential employer. Also, always ask a reference if you can provide their name and phone number before sending it out.
Search on the Internet or ask your guidance counselor for sample resumes. You can follow the formatting style from the sample resume if you need ideas on how your resume should look. Finally, remember to proofread your resume! You don’t want any mistakes on it because this is the first thing a potential employer will see from you. A well-organized and well-written resume will show an employer that you are a smart and careful person. Ask a teacher or parent to look over your resume — they may be able to catch mistakes that you missed.
Getting ready for a job interview
Once you’ve gotten the job interview, there are a number of things you can do to prepare. Getting ready for the interview is as important as actually going to the interview. It will help build your confidence and can help you be chosen for the job.
- Learn about the company. Find out what you can about the position or company in advance and show your knowledge during the interview. Look on the Internet, or speak to someone who works at the company already. Knowing what a position involves also allows you to think in advance about which specific skills you have that fit well with the job.
- Prepare a list of questions. After researching the company, make a list of questions to bring to your interview. This shows your potential employer that you are interested in the company and have the ability to think ahead.
- Choose appropriate clothes. What you wear to your interview is very important. You want to appear professional and reliable. Learn more about fashion dos and don’ts during an interview.