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How to try out a career before pursuing it

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Have a Career in Mind? Try It Out First

Find something you enjoy doing, and then find a way to get paid for doing it.

That was the simple, yet profound, advice a mentor once offered his young protégé. Too often, however, students and career seekers do the opposite: they decide on a high-paying or high-prestige job first, and then try to make themselves “like” the job or the course of study necessary to obtain it. Or they choose an occupation based on what sounds good (or that others want them to pursue) rather than a career that is actually something they would enjoy doing.

The key is to learn more about various occupations and determine which ones appeal to you. But if you are still in school, or between careers, how do you do that? Luckily, there are several ways to gain information and experience in fields you might find interesting.

Part-time Employment A part-time job offers many advantages beyond earning some extra money. It’s also a way to gain valuable experience in a particular field – experience that will allow you to judge whether you would like to make the job your career. As a bonus, performing well at your job will earn you good references for future employment.

Job Shadowing Job shadowing allows you to directly observe someone at work. You can observe firsthand the day-to-day activities you would be performing in a particular job and learn what skills you would need to obtain it. Job shadowing also gives you a chance to ask any questions you might have about the job and how to prepare for it. Go to www.jobshadow.org for more information.

Volunteer Work While it doesn’t provide a paycheck, volunteering is another way to gain experience in a field before deciding to pursue it as a career. It’s also an opportunity to give back to the community while building your résumé. Many employers – particularly those in the human services field – welcome enthusiastic volunteers who offer their time in exchange for work experience.

Temporary Help Firms As its name implies, a temporary help firm places career seekers in temporary positions within a company looking for help. The main advantage of this arrangement is that you’re not making a long-term commitment to the job, since the employer knows it’s temporary. It’s a great opportunity to test your skills and to see if you like the type of work the company does. Plus, you can get a feel for several different jobs and fields in a fairly short period of time.

School Clubs Many schools have clubs that focus on specific careers and cater to students interested in those fields. Student clubs often host guest speakers, arrange workplace tours and sponsor trips to conferences and competitions – all of which are excellent opportunities for résumé building and networking.

Community Agencies If there is a YMCA, YWCA or similar agency in your community, check to see what type of classes they offer. This is a way to gain exposure to a wide range of experiences, one of which could inspire you enough to consider a career in the field.

Internships Internships are temporary working arrangements – usually offered to students – made with a company or organization. An internship may last a few weeks or a few months, and can be paid or unpaid. Often, they are done for college credit, depending on the circumstances. Completing an internship will give you valuable work experience, a résumé credit, a good reference and professional contacts.

Regional Career Education Partnerships For Youth (RCEPs) The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania established Regional Career Education Partnerships for Youth, “RCEPs,” to help students make informed choices about the education and training they need to pursue careers that are right for them. These RCEPs work to give students better opportunities to gain the knowledge and skills critical for success in college and the workplace.

In recent years, almost 235,000 students have connected to more than 9,000 businesses that provide them with career awareness and work-based learning opportunities like job shadowing, mentoring, paid and unpaid internships and apprenticeships. Employers also visit classrooms to discuss the knowledge, skills and education level they expect their employees to possess. Experiences like these, combined with rigorous academics and career-related skills development, will better prepare students for post-secondary education, and ultimately their career.

Article Source: PA.Gov

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