Diane Stafford

Savvy high schoolers jump into career preparation

Updated: 2014-02-14T19:39:12Z

By DIANE STAFFORD

The Kansas City Star

Prediction: Adults will forward this column to their teens and say, “You really need to think about what you’re going to do for the rest of your life.”

Note to helpful adults: Some high schoolers desperately need that reality check, but a lot of them already get it. They’re more plugged in to preparing for future work options than you might suspect.

That’s partly because of career days, job shadowing, school-to-work classes and internships flourishing in many schools, sometimes even in elementary school. Educators are starting early to provide exposure to job options and help students explore their personal interests and abilities.

A national survey by MillennialBranding, a consulting firm, and Internships.com indicates that current high schoolers are, in fact, more tuned to career preparation than even people of college age. Millennial Branding founder Dan Schawbel sees several reasons.

“Parents are pushing their high school students to get involved in careers earlier, but we mainly see high schoolers being more driven, more entrepreneurial, more aggressive in planning careers, and they’re more aware of the resources available to them,” Schawbel said in a phone interview. “Plus about half of companies are building the pipeline for future employees with more internships for high school students.”

Nearly three-fourths of high school internships are in teens’ wheelhouse — social media applications — according to the January survey of students and employers.

Employers surveyed said high school internships are helping students compete for college admissions and for college-age internships, which create better odds for full-time jobs.

There are no career guarantees. Jobs will change, likely many times over work lives.

But it’s never too early to prepare to be competitive for whatever options and opportunities arise.

To reach Diane Stafford, call 816-234-4359 or send email to stafford@kcstar.com. Read more from Diane at kansascity.com/workplace. Follow her on Twitter at kcstarstafford.

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