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Career planning is a lifelong process that can help you manage important life and work decisions. Find out how you can benefit from it.
Wondering what all this talk about planning for your future is about? Find out why it might be a good idea to start thinking about your career now.
Career planning helps you make decisions throughout your career, whether you are just starting or planning retirement. Follow these 4 steps to plan your career.
Knowing what to do after high school starts with knowing yourself. Take the first steps by understanding your values, interests, and abilities.
The first step in planning your career is to know what you value, your interests and the things you’re good at. It's time to get to know yourself. Take one or more of the quizzes to help plan your career path.
When planning your career, it's important to explore the occupations you’re interested in and maybe discover some new ones.
The second step in planning your career is to explore the occupations you’re interested in and maybe discover some new ones. Find the tools you'll need.
Part of career planning is to compare and evaluate your career options. Follow these suggestions to help identify the best option for you.
The third step in planning your career is to get ready and evaluate your career options. Follow these suggestions to help identify the best option for you.
By now, you’ve decided on your next career move. You also know there will be challenges. It's time to make sure your career move will be a success.
Get where you want to go. It can be exciting to identify a career direction and create a plan to pursue it! At the same time, where you are right now can seem like a long way from where you want to be. These 5 steps will help you take action and shorten the distance between you and your vision of the future.
Setting goals based on your dreams can help you face challenges and make changes in your life and career. Learn how to set SMART goals.
3 students walking outside on campus
Plan Your Career
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3 Reasons to Plan Your Career and Future

The easiest way to explain why you should think about your future now is that getting what you want takes planning.

That goes for anything from a job, to a place to live, or a trip you want to take. No matter how simple or difficult the goal, or how soon or far off in the future, you need to take steps to reach it.

You may have heard your parents use phrases like planning for the future or choosing a career. That can seem pretty unimportant when you’re just trying to survive high school. Or looking for work because you need to pay the rent.

When teachers, parents, and other adults say plan for your future, they really mean focus on what you want.

When they say choose a career, they really mean use your interests, passions, values, skills, and strengths to guide your choices.

Why does planning work?

Planning is about doing what it takes to get to where you want to go.

For example, if you wanted to throw a surprise party, you would plan it. You would take steps like choosing a date, making a guest list, inviting people, and buying food and decorations.

It’s the same with your future and your career. You pick a goal, and then you figure out what you need to do to accomplish it, and in what order.

In these two videos, Demi and Joshua talk about the planning they've put into their career paths:

Exploring Career Paths: Pediatrics (3:00)

Demi is interested in pursuing a career as a pediatrician, a type of specialist physician. Through volunteering, she discovers how important it is to have an interest in science and enjoy working with children.

Exploring Career Paths: Engineering (3:32)

Joshua would like to become a civil engineer. Watch as he explores his interests by attending a pre-engineering camp. He learns to build small-scale models and discovers the importance of communicating his ideas.

Planning ahead works because:

  1. Picturing your goals can motivate you and keep you focused.
  2. Planning how to reach your goals helps you set priorities and stay organized.
  3. Sometimes you need to do things in a certain order, so it’s important to know where to start.

Suppose you love animals and want to become a veterinarian. You need a veterinary degree for that. To get into vet school, you need to take certain post-secondary courses first. To be able to take those, you need to take certain high school courses first. So you make a plan to take those courses next year. You go step by step from there.

But what if you aren’t sure about your interests, values, strengths, and skills? What if you haven’t figured out what your goals are? It’s common in high school not to be sure of what you value or what your main strengths and skills are.

If that’s the case, the first step is getting to know yourself better. Check out the information and activities that can help you with that. They can help you:

  • Discover your values, interests, abilities, skills, and traits.
  • Choose a suitable career and find out what steps to take toward it.
  • Find out about career paths, work choices, and how to get needed skills.

Who should plan?

It’s a good idea to read more about planning for your future if:

  • You’re wondering what to do after high school and need to focus your thoughts.
  • You know and like the direction you’re headed in, but you need some help taking steps to get there.
  • You’re not sure what to think, feel, or do.

Take a look at 5 Things You Can Do in 5 Minutes for some fun, easy ways to figure out what you want and how to get it. 

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