Career Development for Juniors aka, Teens really do know what they like

Here at IN, we talk A LOT about career development. It really is central to all of the college planning work we do. As often as we share our process, and explain why career development is so integral to college planning, there are as many families who can’t believe that teens can make such an important decision. No matter what we tell them, they come back with all sorts of reasons why this will NEVER work. Things we often hear include:

“My kid has NO idea what she wants to do!”
“I went to school without declaring a major and I have a great career.”
“Our friend’s kid changed majors 4 times…but he eventually figured it out.”
“Isn’t college for trying out new ideas and figuring out what’s most interesting?”
“This kid is into something new every week. How can they possibly decide?”

Rather than try to convince you with my own ideas about career development (plus, the incredible Alecea put together a 3-part series covering this last month), I thought I’d share thoughts from some of our clients. Today we’ll hear from past clients, those who are already attending college. Later this week, I’ll share thoughts from Class’21 as they make their final decisions about where to attend, and I’ll share thoughts from Class’22. Class’22 is in the midst of career development. As they prepare for a busy application season, they’ll share what they’re discovering and where they might go to prepare for a career at the intersection of their interests and abilities.

Today, we’ll hear from Varun, Tatum, Gretta, and Grace. Varun graduated in 2019. Tatum, Gretta, and Grace in 2020.

Here is what they have to say about career development:

When you started with College Liftoff/IN College Planning did you know what you wanted to study in college? Is that what you ultimately went to college to study?

Gretta: I had polar opposite ideas, either a career in the medical field or a career as a pilot. I wasn’t sure if I wanted a big, small, private, public, or an ROTC school either. I ultimately ended up at a small, private, liberal arts school studying Biology with a minor in Poverty & Human Capabilities Studies on the pre-PA track!

Tatum: I wanted to look into something in the medical field but also kept my eyes open to other majors.

Varun: When I started attending College Liftoff, I had a broad idea of what I wanted to do. At the time, I was hoping to pursue data analytics. Today I do major in business analytics but it is much more concentrated within business.

Grace: I was interested in law and biology at the time. In the end, I choose biology/medicine over law.

How did IN help you figure out your major–what seemed the most useful?

Tatum: IN helped me explore different majors and helped me plan my hs schedule to gain exposure to a potential work environment. I took a class called Mentorship and I shadowed a nurse who gave me exposure to these environments and how they work together. I found the research useful. It guided me to where I am today.

Grace: Career shadowing was the most helpful. It helped me understand what day-to-day life is like in the field. IN College Planning can help connect you with professionals in the field or you can talk to professionals you know. Researching college programs was also enlightening. If you cannot find a professional to shadow, there are also great summer camps for high school students that center around various career fields!

Gretta: College Liftoff proved to me that any school will be a great option and that financial aid should have a heavy influence on your decision. But, looking deeply into the specific programs at schools and the opportunities each has that make them unique is also very important. For example, the study abroad opportunities at my school were far more accessible for every student than at other schools I was looking at.

Varun: When I first started with College Liftoff, there was a discussion about what my interests were and which subjects would yield the results that were important to me. From there, Aaron, my advisor Paige, and I discussed more specifically the schools that were best aligned with my interests. That initial discussion about interests was the most important as it really cultivated the rest of the experience. By figuring out the interests, it was easier to narrow down schools.

Was there an ‘aha!’ moment when all of your research came together?

Varun: For me, after conducting the research, I visited all the schools and my research started to kick in. By interacting with the university, I was able to confirm whatever ideas I had about the school through research. It made the process easier to narrow down.

The ‘aha!’ moment for me wasn’t until later on in my research. After visiting schools a second time it really put my future into perspective.

Gretta: I do not remember one specifically, but I do remember gradually discovering that I wanted small classes and to study abroad. These key factors helped me greatly narrow down my options.

Grace: My aha moment happened during the summer after my junior year. I had been wondering if the medical field was really for me, and decided to attend a medical summer camp hosted by graduate students. I loved every minute of it and knew that I was headed in the right direction. Looking back, even if I hadn’t enjoyed it, it still would have been a good experience! It would have helped me rule out the medical field and move on to something better for me.

How has your plan come together?

Gretta: Honestly, I ended up at my dream school. I’ve already experienced a change to my plans, but it is definitely for the best and makes me even happier– I decided to come to Washington and Lee. I switched from pre-med to pre-PA because of my desire to start working earlier and be able to switch specialties when I want. College Liftoff helped me get to W&L, and W&L will help me get to PA school.

Tatum: I decided to major in nursing at the University of Cincinnati. UC’s program is different from others because they offer two programs, direct admit and an interdisciplinary track. In May, they offered a spot in their direct admit program after I didn’t get into the direct admit in the first round of admissions. I did take classes at Columbus State to “get ahead” but I didn’t alter my class track because I have to graduate in four years. The added credits help me when it comes to picking my classes and lightened my course load, which has helped a lot.

Grace: I am now a Biology major Chemistry minor on a Pre-Med track at Ohio Dominican University. I am also part of the honors program at my school which gave me a full tuition scholarship for four years.

Varun: Currently, I am studying Economic Consulting and Business Analytics at Indiana University. I wouldn’t be at Kelley without College Liftoff’s help.

Are you on track to graduate within 4 years?

This may be the best news of them all. While the average time to earn an undergraduate degree has swelled to 6.2 years, all 4 of these delightful humans are planning to graduate within 4 years!

Thanks Gretta, Varun, Tatum and Grace for taking time out of your busy semester to share your thoughts about career development. It’s so exciting to watch your plans unfold!

Got thoughts of your own about career development? Get in touch, we’d love to help your teen with this important work.

Let's keep this conversation going! If you have any questions or comments about this blog post, drop us a note below and we'll get back to you!