4 ways teens can jumpstart their careers from home

Originally published in eSchool News - September 17, 2020

For teens, summer usually means playing sports, volunteering at summer camps, hanging out with friends, or working a summer job. Because of the pandemic, many of these activities were put on the shelf this year.

While they may not be able to have the same in-person summer experiences they traditionally look forward to, young people can still have a fun and educational summer with their friends by taking part in virtual opportunities – even preparing them for future careers.

Nearly all hiring managers indicate they are having trouble finding qualified job candidates to fill open positions because of gaps in technical skills or gaps in soft skills like effective communication. By 2030 the skills gap is estimated to cost businesses trillions of dollars worldwide.

Career experiences like internships help students discover what they love and teach them key skills employers look for when making hiring decisions.

Here are four fun ways teens can get a jump start on any career, even while social distancing.

Explore

One of the hardest questions you can ask anyone is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Most teens are undecided on what career they would like to pursue after high school. And for those that do know what fields they are interested in; they don’t necessarily know in the full scope of job opportunities available within it. They may be interested in computer science, construction, or healthcare, but they may not know what specific directions they can take that interest. Summer is the perfect opportunity to start exploring different careers.

At Destinations Career Academy of Colorado (CODCA), my students use online resources like Voyager, My Next Move, and My Colorado Journey to help them understand who they are as a person, discover their interests, and ultimately find a career path they are passionate about.

With these resources, students take quizzes that match their current interests to potential careers, watch videos to see what it might look like to work in different career fields, and learn what skills, knowledge, and education requirements they’ll need to successfully pursue a career path in the field they are interested in.

Join a club

Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) help middle and high school students explore different career paths, gain valuable career and life skills, network with industry professionals, and provide opportunities to hold leadership positions.

Members of HOSA interested in pursuing a career in the health care industry can learn technical skills they’ll need to succeed in fields such as pharmacology, nursing, or public health. Students who want to learn more about marketing, finance, or management might consider joining DECA, while FFA is a club for students interested in pursuing a career in the agriculture industry.

Joining any of these CTSOs is the perfect opportunity for students to prepare to take industry-recognized certification exams as they enter the job market, build leadership skills, and meet new friends.

Complete a virtual internship

While traditional summer jobs may not be available for students this year, many companies and organizations offer virtual internships, apprenticeships, and job shadowing opportunities.

CareerWise Colorado and Tallo are just two organizations where students can search for internship and apprenticeship opportunities, including virtual internships.

Internships help students learn more about the industry they are interested in working in and give students a chance to experience a real work environment so they can decide if that’s a career they ultimately want to pursue.

Take a community college course

At many schools, including CODCA, students can earn college credit while still in high school through concurrent enrollment programs. At CODCA, our students can take career readiness courses (CRE) in business, health and human services, IT, STEM, and agriculture.

High school students find that enrolling in an online course at a community college course is another great way to explore different careers and learn skills that will be valuable whether they decide to further their education after graduating high or if they start a career right away. And, graduating high school with a few college credits under your will help save on future education expenses, before setting foot on campus of a four-year institution.

The pandemic is another reminder of how quickly the economy can change, and how quickly our kids will grow up. By starting career readiness in middle and high school, students can take the time to develop the professional and technical skills they’ll need to navigate an ever-changing economy and ultimately, have successful long-term careers.

To learn more about Destinations Career Academy of Colorado, visit codca.k12.com

KEYWORDS: Career Readiness, Destinations Career Academy of Colorado, Colorado, Tallo

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