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When it comes to career advice it seems like everyone has it, right? If you’re a student or a parent to a student, you’re probably looking to find the best career guidance resources out there. I know you’re making strides, but you’re also probably noticing there’s a ton of generic advice out there when it comes to finding the right career path, career goals, resume writing, career planning, etc. You’ll also notice that most career development advice leans heavily toward utilizing educational institutions only. That’s why I decided to put together a list of resources of the best career guidance for students. As a previous student myself and a Career Coach who works with students, I can tell you what works and what doesn’t work.
As a Career Coach who has coached many students and early career professionals in finding their right path and ideal career, I want to address a common misconception. Most parents, students, and educators assume that students can just utilize the career or counseling centers at universities. While this is one resource, it is not the only one that should be relied upon. Back in the day, I used to work at a college and during my time there, I found that a lot of career-related practices that we’re being taught were extremely outdated and far from practical. When I meet with young professionals today, they often tell me about the advice that they were given in their college’s career center, and 90% of the time it’s wrong.
So why is this? A whole department dedicated to helping students figure out their career trajectory lack up-to-date information and resources.
Sadly, it’s because most of these consist of student jobs mixed with professionals who aren’t given the budget to attend professional development classes and conferences in the career growth industry. So unfortunately, you’re left with professionals who are sharing advice based on what they heard growing up or their linear view.
I promise, I’m not trying to be harsh, I’m just sharing my thoughts based on what I’ve encountered over the years. Ok, now that I’m off of my soap box, it’s time to dive in the 9 best places to find career guidance for students.
Having a mentor as a student can change your life. Mentors are like a personal career guide. Learning from someone who has been in your shoes, followed their dreams, and is genuinely enjoying their life path can be extremely beneficial. Mentors can help you make an informed decision by providing feedback, direction, guidance, and connections based on the goals you share with them. When it comes to selecting a mentor, it is helpful to ask yourself the following questions:
Keep in mind, you can have more than one mentor because your mentor may not have EVERYTHING you need. Spoiler alert, no one does.
Everyone is on a journey of self-improvement and has even more to learn, but consider learning what you can from them and leaning on another mentor for other areas of support.
When utilized correctly, mentors can set you up for success by telling you what you need to work on, how you need to work on it, and introduce you to the people that can assist you as well.
As high school students or a college student looking for career guidance, you can find a mentor in many ways.
The important thing to remember is to always keep your eyes and heart open to building new connections and relationships. You never know how much you can learn and grow from other people.
I’ve always been a big fan of personality assessment and career assessments. As a disclaimer, I have to admit that they cannot solve all of your problems or tell you what to do, but they give you an amazing start. Many of these assessments can give you insight into your personality traits, strengths, weaknesses, new career paths, and ideal career fit.
Aside from career suggestions and career fit, they can also offer insights into the daily tasks and required qualifications for each job. This in-depth analysis helps students make well-informed decisions about their career paths.
Benefits: Students looking for career guidance can take these tests in the comfort of their homes, allowing them ample time for self-reflection before making crucial decisions. There are a variety of these tests, but if students are honest, they can take several (I recommend 3!) and begin to notice similarities in suggestions and feedback.
(Note: if you want me to make an article where I review the best career assessments, let me know in the comment section below!).
One of the biggest lessons I wish I would’ve learned while I was a student is the importance of investing in yourself. Sometimes investing comes in the form of hiring experts that can help give career guidance when needed. In today’s world, it’s important to have a neutral third party who can come in, listen, break down what you’re saying, and point you in the right direction. There are a variety of life coaches, career coaches, and leadership coaches who have the tools, strategies, and expertise to help students set specific goals to help set themselves up for success.
If you hire a coach you can get help with a lot of things including, career guidance, choosing the right career for your personality, goal planning, skill development, professional branding, and so much more.
Benefits: Career Coaches often have a career guidance program that specializes in providing career guidance for students who need help identifying career opportunities, finding opportunities, presenting themselves professionally, find helpful resources to help them reach their goals. Career Coaches spend hours and invest their energy into staying on top of latest developments, trends and best practices. Instead of trying to research everything on your own and piecemeal everything together, you can save time by hiring a career coach.
(P.S. I understand that young people can’t always invest in career counseling. If this is the case, check to see if your higher education institution provides access to career guidance counselors. You can also check with your academic advisor or parents to see what other options may be available for you to obtain career counseling services.)
Professional networks can expose students to new opportunities and create mutually long-term beneficial relationships. One of the most popular and most helpful professional networking platforms is LinkedIn. This networking resource is a goldmine for students. By creating a engaging and fully optimized profile and connecting with professionals and alumni, students can gain valuable insights into different industries. Engaging in group discussions and following professionals who speak to specific career interests can provide students with a broader perspective on their chosen field.
Benefits: Building a professional network early on can introduce to you professionals who can teach you about the world of work, provide proper guidance, and introduce you to various professions in different sectors. These relationships can play an important role in leading to internships, mentorship opportunities, and even job offers after graduation.
Never underestimate the power of an internship These opportunities allow students to take a peak into a variety of career fields without a full commitment. This way, students can figure out what they love, hate, and everything in between. Internships can bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application. There are so many internship sites out there that students can take advantage of. In fact, there are websites dedicated to internship placements that allow students to search for opportunities based on their majors and interests. Securing an internship not only enhances their resumes but also provides a taste of their potential career paths.
Benefits: Internships offer firsthand experience, helping students confirm their career choices or explore new interests.
Most cities hold career fairs through schools and non-profit organizations. Career fairs are concentrated hubs of opportunity. Students can interact with representatives from different companies, learn about educational requirements, hear more about different careers, and even participate in on-the-spot mock interviews (for practice!). Workshops conducted during these events cover topics such as professional etiquette, networking, and industry trends, preparing students for the competitive job market.
Benefits: Attending career fairs enhances students’ confidence and exposes them to a myriad of career options they might not have considered. This is also the perfect opportunity for networking. You may even learn a new skill or two!
Online communities provide a platform for students to seek advice anonymously if needed. The diverse range of perspectives offered by professionals, educators, and peers enriches the discussion. Participating in these communities not only answers specific queries but also builds a sense of belonging among students. Potential mentors, coaches, and job connections can also be found in these communities when used the right way.
Benefits: These communities offer a safe space for students to express their concerns, share experiences, and receive encouragement from like-minded individuals.
I spent a lot of my teen years and early 20’s volunteering. I met so many amazing people and learned a lot of great skills that I still use to this day. Volunteering not only contributes to society but also helps students develop crucial soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and leadership. Engaging in community service exposes students to diverse environments and challenges, broadening their perspectives about potential career paths.
Benefits: Volunteering enhances students’ empathy and social awareness, qualities valued by employers in various fields.
Association groups, educational institutions, internships, and online platforms host webinars and podcasts conducted by industry experts. These sessions cover topics ranging from emerging trends to skill development. Students can participate in live Q&A sessions, interact with professionals, and gain insights that are not typically found in textbooks. Many of these opportunities are free, but again I recommend getting in the habit of investing early on. If there is a topic of interest, I recommend students invest the funds to participate in the program.
Benefits: Webinars and podcasts offer a dynamic learning experience, allowing students to stay updated with the latest industry developments.
As you can see, there are so many resources when seeking career guidance for students. I recommend not trying to tackle them all at once, but find the avenue that works best for your personality, preferences, and time commitment capabilities. At the center of all of these, you’ll see that forming relationships is the common denominator. As a student and future working professional, these relationships will carry you throughout the years.
As always, if you have any questions, thoughts, or want to add to the conversation, leave a comment below or reach out via the contact form here on my site.
Cheers to your career success!