4 Reasons High School Students should begin career planning early

Why It’s Important to Think About Your Career in High School?

The sooner you begin making plans for your future career-wise, the better off you’ll be.

Considering how competitive the job market has become, it’s never too early to start to think about your career.

“What are you going to do when you grow up?” is a common question, even for elementary school children, but today, high school students are reportedly planning ahead and seeking internships to help them get into college and land job opportunities down the road.

Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and consulting firm, and Internships.com, the world’s largest internship marketplace, announced a new study, “High School Careers,” which surveyed 4,769 students (172 high school students and 4,597 college students) and 326 employers from across the country. The study found high school students are actually more entrepreneurial than college students. Many high school students surveyed were interested in internships to get new skills, work experience and to network.

The sponsors of the study, Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding and author of “Promote Yourself,” and Robin Richards, CEO of Internships.com, suggest the following reasons why it’s important for you to start to think about your future career while you’re still in high school:


  1. You’ll grow your network early. If you’re thinking about your career, you’ll make a point to start to network. Schawbel notes: “By going to school-sponsored events, local meetups and connecting with your teachers, you can grow a powerful network that will support you in college admissions and beyond. Very few high school students take the time to meet professional contacts, leverage them to create opportunities and then keep in touch with them when they graduate.”  There’s no question that having a professional network is useful for career success. High school students who focus on their career early are more likely to be motivated to focus on their personal brand. LinkedIn encourages teenagers to create profiles on their professional network, and young people who are interested in their future are more likely to take advantage of this and other online and in-person tools to expand their network.
  2. You’ll be more competitive for college applications. If you’re applying to colleges, your part-time job or internship experience can build a case for you as a strong applicant. “Because many students apply to college after high school without having completed an internship, your experience over the summer can help you stand out from the crowd of students,” Richards explains. “The admissions committee will be able to see that you are motivated, inquisitive and serious about success from the fact that you used your break to work and gain professional experience.”
  3. You’ll have a head start figuring out what you want to do after high school. When you gain work experience, it will be easier to rule out the majors you won’t be interested in if you go to college, so you don’t make any career mistakes. Or, you may learn that you want to pursue a career that doesn’t require a college degree, and you can save a lot of money, time and effort. “The sooner you understand what you do and don’t want to do for a career, the easier it will be to make the right career decisions,” Schawbel says. “In high school there’s no pressure to pick a major or a career, so it’s the best time to experiment.”
  4. You’ll learn a lot. Just applying for internships is a great learning experience. Richards explains: “Going through the internship application process and completing a summer internships program offers valuable decision-making lessons which can come in handy when applying to colleges and future summer internships.” She adds: “In addition to learning important skills that will make you a very valuable employee, a summer job or internship in high school can help you gain confidence and a better understanding of ‘the real world.'”

4 Benefits of Higher Education

High school graduation is something most young people look forward to – not just because it’s an accomplishment, but also because of the freedom it brings.  Many young people develop a negative attitude toward education.  It’s no wonder, then, that many young people are tempted to consider their high school graduation day the end of their educational careers.

Higher education serves many purposes, only some of which are emphasized in our culture.  Some young people may think it’s not for them and, therefore, miss out on many of the potential benefits that such an educational experience provides.  Higher education is not just about learning; it’s about the opportunity for further personal development, as well.

  1. Career Preparation: for young people that have a pretty solid idea of what type of career they would like to have as an adult, post-secondary education will primarily serve as a means for gaining the skills, training and knowledge necessary to enter their desired profession.
  2. Broader Practical Benefits: People who seek education beyond high school are likely to be better off in terms of economic well-being, physical health and participation in political and community affairs.
  3. Personal Development: the following benefits, typically derived from a successful higher education experience, can prove to be major enhancements to your life: better communication, critical thinking skills, identification of skills, realization of passions, greater sense of discipline, and sense of accomplishment.
  4. Pursuing a Passion: education is not only a tool for making money – it can be good for our hearts and souls as well.

Graduating Soon? Jump start your job search.

  1. Don’t put off your job search. You might think after you graduate is the perfect time to relax and take a break. This could lead to a long time of unemployment. Instead, start your job search before you graduate. You are a more likely candidate when you are fresh out of school versus someone who has graduated and waited around. Keep in mind, job searches can take a while; it’s never too early to start.
  2. Use your resources. There are many resources for finding a job. Calhoun’s Career Services hireCalhoun job portal, your local career centers, job fairs, and employment website are among the many resources you are surrounded by.
  3. Use your networks. Friends, family members, parents’ friends, people in your field are good networks to assist you in finding a job. Let them know you are looking for a position and learn more about the field you are entering.
  4. Include all your work experience on your resume. You may think that the classes you have taken towards your degree is your only qualifications you have for a job. But this isn’t necessarily the case. Any kind of work experience is better than no experience. Job duties from one job often relate to multiple types of positions.
  5. Come across professional. Make sure you have a professional email address, voicemail, and clean social media. If employers want to contact you, it is important to come across as professional and mature as possible. Being unprofessional could rob you of a great job opportunity.

But is it relevant?

Let’s set the scene. You have sat down to edit your resume for a new job posting you saw on hireCalhoun. Your resume is three pages, yikes! You obviously do not want the person reviewing your resume to have any unanswered questions. However, what you should really be asking yourself should be “is this information relevant”?

If you are not asking yourself this you can already expect your resume to go in the “No” pile.

Yes, the “No” pile.

Everything in this day and age is “We don’t have time for that.” Employers want to see information that is relevant to the job description that they posted. That is it.

So, maybe your resume does not need to list everything you have done. Maybe your resume does not need to be three pages.

As you review your resume, be sure that all the experience, education, skills, and volunteer work are relevant to the job for which you are applying. If not, remove it. It is that simple. You will be happy you did so because I guarantee, your resume is more likely to end up in the “Yes” pile.

Get involved!

Most students, who attend Calhoun, come to class, go to work, do homework and that is it. Unlike big universities, most students are not aware of all the clubs and organizations that Calhoun has on campus.

Yes, you are building your resume by coming to Calhoun by gaining skills and education; however, the best thing you can do is get involved on campus. Clubs and organizations can be a great way to expand your qualifications. Most clubs have volunteering involved, which gives you an opportunity to continue to utilize skills and again, build your resume.

Now, of course becoming a member is important, but becoming a part of the leadership of the club is even better.

If you are discouraged because you have no related work experience, turn to these opportunities. These transferable skills are the soft skills that every employer is looking for.

So take it from someone who was involved in college, you will not regret it.


See our list of clubs and organizations at Calhoun below:

  • Additive Manufacturing Club (AMC)
  • The Art Club Box
  • American Society for Quality Student Chapter
  • Animé Lounge (Decatur Campus)
  • Baptist Campus Ministries
  • Bass Fishing Team
  • Biological Sciences Research Group
  • Black Students’ Alliance
  • Books 101
  • Broadcasting Club / Photography Club
  • Child Development Club
  • Christians at Calhoun
  • College Autism Spectrum Organization (CASSO)
  • Criminal Justice Club
  • Debate Club (Huntsville Campus)
  • Drama Club
  • M.S. Club
  • Entrepreneurs Club
  • Gathering of Gamers
  • Interfaith Club
  • International Club (Huntsville campus)
  • La Vos/Spanish Club
  • C3 NASA Rover Team (C3NRT) Club
  • Nursing Club
  • Phi Theta Kappa
  • Physical Therapist Assistant Club
  • Psychology Club
  • Prime Fellowship
  • Sigma Kappa Delta (SKD – English)
  • SkillsUSA
  • Students for Life (SFL)
  • Student Government Association (SGA)
  • Warhawks Student Ambassadors


Sharing your strengths and weaknesses

What are your Strengths and Weaknesses?

It’s one of the burning questions most employers will ask during an interview. What most people do not realize, is that employers really take how you respond to this question into consideration.

The most common response is “I don’t have any.” We all have a weakness and strength. When responding to this question, you need to have an answer that is relevant to the job you are interviewing for, along with an example to support your response.

The trick for answering your weakness is by turning your weakness into a positive.  You also want to state what you are doing to overcome that weakness.

For example, “I tend to automatically take the leadership role when working in groups. This is a weakness, as I need to figure out my role within a group before assuming leadership. I am working on this by collaborating with the team to identify everyone’s strengths before taking charge.” This example is showing that yes, you do have a weakness, you are aware of it, but you are working on it.

How to ace a phone interview

Nowadays, employers are turning more to phone interviews to weed out candidates before meeting in person. It is really hard to make a good first impression over the phone, but here are a few ways you can be prepared:

  1. Clear the room of any distractions. Be in a room where there is no television, computer or a chance of the dog barking while you are trying to tell the employer about yourself.
  2. Have your resume with you as a cheat sheet for reference. It can be easy to get nervous, but your resume will help you if that happens.
  3. If possible, use a landline instead of a cell phone because we all know cell service is not always reliable.
  4. Be prepared by setting your phone volume on high, so you hear the phone ring as soon as the employer calls.
  5. Turn off call waiting as that can be a huge distraction in the midst of your interview.
  6. Answer the phone professionally and make sure it is not mom or dad answering the phone. When the employer calls, they expect you to answer with a polite response.
  7. Do not be driving. We all think we can multi-task, but it is never good to be a distracted driver, nor is it to be multi-tasking during an interview. You want all your focus on that interview, as a phone interview tends to be shorter than an in-person interview.
  8. The speakerphone is a no go. Speakerphone can leave the opportunity for the employer to hear a lot of background noise. Limit that possibility by not being on speaker. This also avoids the chance of the employer not being able to hear you speak.
  9. Even though you are not in person, you still need to speak with enthusiasm and interest in the position. It is probably best not to schedule the call for when you are just waking up.
  10. Always end with a thank-you.

How to spend your time while unemployed

  1. Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to keep your skills up to date and learn new ones. Doing so will allow you to add to your resume and also expand your networks. This proves that you are reliable and can have others vouch for you.

  1. Network

Keep in touch with your networks. Past managers and coworkers who liked your work are people who can vouch for you and recommend you. It is important you maintain a relationship with these people for potential future positions.

  1. Be visible in your field

Go to your industries local events and volunteer. Build your professional presence online. Join blogs, sites, LinkedIn groups, etc. Show that you are passionate about your work. This is extremely appealing to employers when hiring someone.

  1. Learn a new skill

Building your skills and expanding your knowledge is crucial. Skills can help build your resume. Go learn a new language or learn skills that are relatable to your industry. There are plenty of free or low-cost learning opportunities. Even the internet is a good place to self-learn new skills.

  1. Have fun

Don’t feel guilty about not job searching all day every day. Give yourself a breather. Go do things that you couldn’t do when you were working full-time or when you were in school full-time. Have a relaxing day or find a new hobby. Once you get back to work, it will be harder to do the things you enjoy.


The Job Search. It’s a Job Itself.

We all have to go through a job search at some point in our life. It’s a “job” that no one looks forward to. Why? Well, it takes a lot of time and effort and it is not as if you are getting paid for it. You can spend up to 40+ hours a week looking for a job. Here are some tips to help make the process easier:

  1. Network. – Utilize every opportunity to network with friends, family, job clubs and career fairs. Getting yourself out in front of employers makes a big difference when applying for jobs. Do not forget, your biggest network is usually found right in your classroom and with your instructors.
  2. Keep a log. – Keep a log of all the jobs you apply to. Include the company, job title, job number, and date applied. This will make it easier when you apply to multiple positions to keep them easily separated.
  3. Know the job you want. – You have to know the type of position you are looking for. Is it part-time or full-time? What pay range are you willing to accept? What are your needs in a job?
  4. Proof your resume. – Every job you apply for will have a resume catered to that position, but it is important to have your resume prepared and proofed prior to applying to positions. Making a “resume review” appointment with career services is a great place to start.
  5. Stay positive. – Job searching can be very aggravating and will make you feel like giving up at some points, but staying positive and persistent is key.

How to move on after being rejected from a job

You receive that letter of rejection from an employer. You didn’t land that dream job you wanted. The biggest thing to remember is that you don’t really know how good of a fit you were for the job. From the outside, it may have seemed like a good fit, but you never truly know until you are in the job. Chances are, the job you thought you wanted so badly, wasn’t really what you needed after all.

Continue to put effort into finding another job; you will eventually land a great job. You often hear stories about people being rejected from jobs only to be offered a far better position with another company. Be patient and wait, your time will come with a position that is a great fit for you.

Remember, rejection isn’t always a bad thing. Keep up the motivation and hard work and build up your reputation. You’ll be much happier where you end up.