Where to start if you have no idea what to do after high school

Before blindly taking the leap and applying to everything our grades qualify us for, I'd take time to explore all the available opportunities. Here you have the 5 tools that I've found to be the most useful for the career orientation for youth (including myself). That way, when a parent or somebody else forces you towards a career choice you don't want to pursue, you'd have the data, the knowledge and the confidence to boomerang it back.

1) Input Youth Job Guides is a good starting point, but is a little unstructured, thus messy to use. Still, it has a good search option if you have a specific career in mind, and it gives you advice about the skills, education and diplomas needed to get started in the industry and link for further information.

2) The Bureau of Labor Statistics of US is a wonderful resource as well. For example, here we have this table, which shows us the numbers of the fastest growing industries and the fastest declining ones for the last year. This might serve as a guide for the future trends for unemployment or very poorly paid industries - the ones you have to stray away from, as well as the future treasures of dynamic career opportunities.

If you want to dig deeper and study the usual pay in different industries, highest paying, fastest growing and the industies with most expected new jobs, what education is required, the work environment, what exactly  do the workers do etc. etc. here is the link to the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

It truly is a gem and I highly recommend it. First of all, it doesn't make use of assumptions as the writers of the latest career orientation articles usually do. It's all about facts and real data, all gathered by professionals from the US Labor Bureau. I love that! And I'd love that in my country the labor bureau would work as good.

3) The College Board's Majors and Career Search. Here you'll find not only (a short) description of the career, but it also give links to the colleges that provide the required major. Also, for more in depth information, you could sign up to College Board's My Road, that helps you build your "map" of options, especially if you're in US. This is the tool I've personally used when I was in high school to help me get oriented in the field I was about to embrace, therefore I recommend it as well.

4) Personality Desk's Advanced Career Search. If you're clueless about what career would suit you best, and you strongly believe in tailoring it to your personality, you should use this one.

First of all, you should take the Myers Briggs test to identify what would suit your in-born qualities. As a "know-thyself" psychology junkie, I tried a lot of tests and read about a lot of classifications of natural personality types - and I found out the Myers Briggs to be the most complete and powerful tool I've discovered yet.

Next, take the classical Holland test. This one will guide you to your interest and the fields you'll likely be happy working in. It has been widely recommended and used - and it makes it more clear about your likes and dislikes.

Then, introduce this two variables in the advanced search - and, voilà! - all the career opportunities at your feet. The ones that would most probably suit your interests and qualities. I'm INFP, by the way. And the half of hour (at most) that you've spent doing those tests would pay off with lots of time that hasn't been lost on fruitless self-search.

5) After you've done all that research using the previous tools listed, you'll have a big-picture and a more clear direction of your future. Now comes the most powerful tool for propelling you into the right career. Find a mentor and learn everything you can. Take every advice seriously and give something back. Here, I'll redirect you to someone that know infinitely more about the subject. Good luck and stay on track!

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Can fear be helpful for achieving your goals?

I get really afraid sometimes, like the rest of the world. Especially when I know that I'm doing things that I'm not expected to do, bigger than what I know I do well. And, because I know that anxiety can get in the way of my actions, I apply a trick that I've learned from one the wonderful blogs I read. (You can go to my twitter page to see who I follow to get an idea of what I'm talking about)

I ask myself: "What is the worst that could happen?"

Usually, in real life, it's still not going to be the worst thing I had imagined.

Still, just to be sure,  I make a mindmap with all the possible problems and how I'd overcome them in case they do happen. Basically, I make simple risk management on a personal (or project-related) level. That way, I can handle emergencies with calm and be prepared when others were overly optimistic and just hoped for the best outcome without questioning.

Face your monster - and you could find out that it was just a little bunny projecting a scary shadow on the wall. Expect the best, be prepared for the worst. (old sayings)

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Nicoleta Domnicu