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Career Management 101:
Getting Started or Restarted

In today's global economy, securing pay-the-bills employment can be challenging enough. And finding a meaningful career one that not only sustains you financially, but gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment can be even more difficult. Starting early and being creative and open to new experiences are a must. Here you'll find tips and resources to:

  • Get your children thinking ahead and participating in opportunities designed to lay the foundation for future education and training;
  • Determine your interests and design a career path and education plan around those things you enjoy;
  • Prepare yourself for future employment along a non-traditional path, gaining a range of experience, training, and education through non-profit employment, paid and unpaid internships, involvement in civic or professional organizations or student associations and councils;
  • Explore a career change while on vacation;
  • Find out what types of education and experience an aspiring entrepreneur should pursue.

 

Career Management Tips for Parents

1. Use the characters in your child's favorite books, movies, or television programs to talk about possible careers. Examples: Disney's Hanna Montana is a singer, but that's only one of hundreds of occupations in the entertainment industry, talent agent, music production editor, entertainment lawyer, make-up artist, lighting director, songwriter, etc. Even our favorite superheroes have day jobs. Superman's alter ego, Clark Kent, works as a journalist; Batman, a.k.a Bruce Wayne, is an investor/businessman. And while wizard may not be a high-paying occupation in our world, Harry Potter must use chemistry, botany, physics, and mathematics, opening up tons of career options.

2. Use the Career Self-Assessment tool to help your child determine interests, skills, values, and personality. The Career Lists, which include a synopsis of what it takes academically and practically to work in hundreds of occupations and professions, can then be used to match those with potential careers.

3. Encourage involvement. Scouts, 4-H, band, Future Farmers of America, DECA, Junior Achievement, drama, and sports all strengthen leadership skills and expose young people to potential careers. Example: Professional athlete may not be for your child, but what about a physician specializing in Sports Medicine, a team physical therapist, team manager, public relations professional, broadcaster, or agent?

4. Find out if your public school district offers Career Academies, also called Tech Prep or small learning communities, that provide high school students or recent graduates specialized instruction and hands-on experience in fields as varied as advanced manufacturing, aviation, digital media, healthcare, and restaurant management.

Career Management Tips for Students: Middle School, High School, and Post-Secondary

1. Keep your grades up so you don't limit your options. Don't shy from the tough courses, and sample widely, mixing mathematics and science with history and humanities. The variety not only makes you a well-rounded individual, but also exposes you to a range of career options. 

2. Get involved, and take advantage of extra-curricular experiences, including community service, internships, student councils and associations, foreign exchanges, political campaigns, fund drives, job shadowing or mentoring programs, and apprenticeships

3. Talk to your teachers, professors, and your parents' friends. Ask questions about what they do; what it took to get there; related fields; skill and educational requirements; daily tasks and primary responsibilities, and what they like most or don't like about their careers. 

4. Continuing your education and training after high school can take many forms, so don't focus solely on a college-or-no-college option. And the military isn't the only place you can get top-notch, state-of-the-art technical training. Take a "campus tour," explore Oklahoma's CareerTech system, or use the Oklahoma Career Information System (OKCIS) to get a complete picture of your education future. 

Career Management Tips for New Employees

1. Most people don't nab that ideal job when first entering the workforce so consider step employment that gives you a range of duties and experience. Look for non-profit organizations or professional associations related to your field of choice and apply for any job openings they may have. Smaller organizations, with tight budgets, give you an opportunity to wear many hats. 

2. Consider every business-related encounter as a job interview. Today's customer, co-worker, or passing acquaintance could be tomorrow's boss. 

3. Join professional associations and take on leadership roles; volunteer in your community. 

4. Practice success skills. In careers, as in football, there are basic skills that produce results. In football it's blocking and tackling. In business it's showing up on time, finishing what you start, doing what you say you're going to do, and helping others win.

Tips for Those Who are Ready for a Change

1.You already have a full-time job, but you're ready to change careers. However, you may not have a lot of time for exploration. Solution: explore new careers during vacation. Visit www.vocationvacations.com.

2. Use the Oklahoma Career Information System (OKCIS), which helps you match your interests and even hobbies to careers; details the specific training and skills needed for your new occupation of choice; lists colleges, universities, technology centers, and other training facilities that can provide these skills; takes you through the steps involved with a job search; details the path you'll need to become an entrepreneur, and more.

3. If you do plan on returning to school, check out Oklahoma's E-Learning options, which may give you the flexibility you need to continue working while you gain the knowledge and skills needed for your career switch.

4. Be willing to take risks and be creative. Think of ways to turn your passions or interests into your next career.