Graduating high school is best described as bittersweet. You like being around your friends and hate being around everyone else and you’re ready to be done with your last final to get to Cap and Gown Day.  That is until your parents, teachers and school counselors ask for the 500th time, “Have you decided what kind of job you want?” Making you realize that even though you are ready to be done with high school, you are leaving your routine and need a plan to figure out…well, everything.

There are some that just know what they are supposed to do for work. What do the rest of us do when choosing how we contribute to this world isn’t so clear? As a recent high school graduate, I am sharing what I did to sort through the noise to choose my career path.

1.     Write down your interests

Literally, write down the things you are interested in – the things you like. Do it by yourself, and then do it with someone who really knows you. They may hear you talk about something every day that you forget. Don’t write about what you can do. That’s not going to help. I mean, I can learn how to fix a flat tire but I have no interest in cars.

2.     Look for adults that earn a living from what interests you and have a conversation

Tell your family, friends and teachers about your interests. You can also search for real advice from people on sites like medium, flipboard and reddit. Be ready to actually listen. Hearing a variety of different journeys about how people got to the work they do allows you to unlock a mindset of thinking past your fear. It also helps make the unknown known.

3.     Answer the big question: Should I go to college and why?

It’s so confusing to me when I hear people tell me that they are going to go to a university but haven’t yet decided what they are going to do. I think that is where the saying, “cart before the horse” comes in.  Luckily, I don’t have someone telling me that I have to go to college. I have my mom telling me, “crunch the numbers”. I’m not going to be a doctor, lawyer or scientist. So, I want to focus on the job skills I need and where to get them. There are so many educational choices, a four year university with an astronomical price tag may not be the best investment for me.


4.     Make a Short-Term Goal For Post-High School

After you figure out your interests, talk to people, work some things out and figure out what you need to learn to pursue those interests.  Make a goal. Give your best performance to achieve that goal, don’t get distracted and don’t become disengaged in your life. Go all out and know it’s okay to make mistakes because that’s how you find who you truly are. Always remember things take time and nothing will come to you if you’re not working for it. There is so much pressure to be an adult, to have everything figured out. But I’ll let you in on a little secret…no one has it figured out at this age, and if they say they do, they’re lying!

5.     Ignore the haters so you can hear what smart people have to say

Every now and then you will meet people that will try and put you down and judge your decisions. Ignore them. Besides, you need to have time to listen to people who are asking you smart questions about your goals and plans – not to put them down, but to share in the possibilities of making it happen. The questions can be harsh, but remember you don’t know everything. People like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Amelia Earhart were put down for trying to do something that had never been done before but were challenged by smart people to help them accomplish their dreams.

So, that’s it. The five steps I went through to help decide what I should do after high school. My mom helped my older sister, a college graduate, and now me go through this process. She created pepelwerk to help as many people as possible have a better start (or second chance) at creating their own work life. It worked for me, my sister, her employees and my friends. Now all that high school student like me needs to do, is download the pepelwerk app. You will get the same benefits that I did – happy, realistic work goals that aren’t going to break the bank that I feel confident about. Good luck in your work life!