Gearing Up for the Road Ahead

As you take steps towards college, work, consider what you value and design a process with few steps on how to get there. It is best to be ready for failures, for rejections, and to keep moving forward. In order to find the programs that will benefit you and reap future opportunities, it is vital that you be ready to apply many times, and many places, but in a directed way, knowing what it is you want to be doing. Consider what you might like to pursue as a career. What is it that you are passionate about? Try gaining some experience in those areas through internships, fellowships, or consider looking into the best gap year programs. These include opportunities to study abroad or to work in other cities or communities around the country.

Internships and Other Career Opportunities

For example, if you are interested in international affairs because you want to pursue the foreign service, or if you are passionate about a certain region or issue, try interning for the State Department. Go ahead and spend some time on the State Department Student Program’s page, especially the Pathways and internships programs, meet with a career advisor in high school or college and write up your resume and essay. You will be exposed to the daily work of the State Department, a truly exciting place.

Or, if you are interested in getting involved in the private sector, you might try applying for an internship with your company of choice. Some students are interested in non-profit work, such as for community organizations, or international NGOs. Other students are interested in industries such as technology, agriculture, or finance, while some seek creative or academic paths. There are many routes to pursuing your dream job, so enjoy exploring. Introspection is important as you gradually begin to have more of a sense of purpose as you realize what you hope to accomplish. Parents can play an important role by offering words of encouragement and advice, but also by letting their children begin to make more of their own decisions.

College and Academic Opportunities

You might consider getting a minor, or even majoring, in something outside of your area of interest itself. If you are passionate about multiple areas, you will enjoy the learning process. It is best to seek out chances to engage on the ground. It is also good to find mentors, by connecting with internship supervisors, professors or advisors. This is easiest done while in college or through a program. It’s important that you reach out and you will find people in the field who really support you. They will give you valuable advice, write you letters of recommendation, or refer you to the right people. They may even help you by sending you postings for positions you might be a good fit for in the future.

The best way to do this is through your college program. Applying to college can seem like an arduous process, but it is actually an exciting time. As you apply, focus on your extracurricular experiences as well as good grades, test scores, and a strong essay. The SAT is a fairly straightforward exam, as are the subject tests, which are only occasionally required for certain programs. The easiest way to apply to multiple schools is through the Common App. Schools that don’t accept the Common App have their own applications on their websites, which are generally fairly similar. Don’t worry too much about having it all figured out. Undergraduate school is a time to explore different interests, and to learn how to manage time and live more independently. Some schools offer important connections and programs to get involved in various opportunities. It is important to not disregard one’s studies, but instead to seek ways to link your academic focus to real-world engagements. If you decide to pursue graduate school afterward, you must have developed a plan for what you hope to study, and your field of interest. Master’s programs are usually for students who have a professional focus, while doctoral programs are for the more academically inclined.

Bio: Brett has a degree in Business Management and has started a couple of small businesses. When he’s not focusing his time on those, he spends time with his wife and two sons. His oldest son has entered the wonderful realm of college, and he now enjoys helping other parents learn what he’s been learning as a new college parent.

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