How to Choose a Career: High School Edition

Got college or career questions? Lewis College & Career Specialist Carla McIlnay-Shaw is here to help.

Mario Orellana Juarez

Got college or career questions? Lewis College & Career Specialist Carla McIlnay-Shaw is here to help.

Mario Orellana Juarez, Guest Writer

Surely you have already heard the phrase, “You better choose your university career wisely since you will dedicate your whole life to it.” Warnings like this make you feel uncomfortable and, to a point, intimidated. You feel that you are spinning around among so many thoughts. You can even get mortified due to all the worries if you choose one career path over another. But “Life after high school” doesn’t need to be an intimidating phrase.

Many Lewis High School students at some point in their academic life have considered their future lives. What will they study? What do they like or are passionate about? What will they do with their lives?

College & Career Specialist Carla McIlnay-Shaw has experience in this area from helping years of Lewis seniors and juniors.

“We’re very fortunate [at Lewis]. Any of the academies is a stepping stone for students who try on something to see if that’s what they would really like to study in college,” Shaw said.

Students can develop a passion for something or help make it easier for them to decide what career they want to study through high school academy classes. Lewis students have the privilege to have access to these academy classes on or off campus, and every student should take at least one academy class if schedules permit.

“A lot of students decide to go into the medical profession, and we have West Potomac academy for the medical [careers] and for students who want to try on that particular career before they go on to a higher level of education to see if that might be for them,” Shaw said.

One of the common fears concerning college are the financial expense, which by the way, is one, if not the most, of the biggest fears that the vast majority of students have when they graduate from high school. When a student is undecided concerning what to study at a college, he or she should try to do internships through different companies and organizations.

“Hopefully when you are in college, internships happen more so than they do in high school to help the student realize if this is what they would really like, and also if they do, the company knows they are good workers they can extend a job offer,” Shaw said.

Having an internship gives the student experience in the career field they want to pursue. Not only does this give you an advantage over other candidates when applying for jobs, but the experience that is gained in person is authentic, allowing you to make conclusions as to whether it is a good fit for you.

You can be a doctor and at the same time be very active in the real estate investment world. You can also be an electrical engineer and enjoy doing art. The possibilities are limitless.

“You have many options, which is what you, the student, wants to do. Again, you can change your mind in college. That’s why in those first two years in college everybody is taking general education classes. You don’t really get into your major until you are a junior in college, and that’s why colleges are letting you come in undecided,” Shaw said.

On this roller coaster of life, whether going up or down, you will find opportunities that deserve further investigation. There is no absolute “right career”; it is just a matter of finding what you are passionate about. For this reason, do not be anxious if you haven’t found your passion as a high school student.

As a high school junior, consider taking an assessment test. If college might be in your future, this will set you up for senior year to be prepared to research and apply to colleges. If you have an idea that you would like to study, then you should be researching college majors and planning out college preparatory courses and college major requirements.

It is completely natural that some find their passion early, others late, and others are still searching. We don’t all find our passion at the same time, and that’s okay. Remember that the career you choose doesn’t have to prevent you from pursuing additional interests.