I am a big proponent of questions. I ask a lot of them and taught my children to do the same. It is amazing what you can learn if you start listening! We’ve gained valuable career information from seatmates on airplanes, ferries, and buses. We talk to doctors, business owners, artists, employees, Uber drivers, and store clerks. The world is a fascinating place filled with thousands of ways to earn a living.
If a student is interested in a particular career, I always encourage them to find a way to talk to someone in that field. Whether it is inviting a parent’s acquaintance over for supper or asking for an appointment to discuss someone’s specialty, the student should go prepared with questions.
- What prompted you to pursue this career?
- What is the best thing about your job?
- What does the future look like for this field?
- How do I best prepare myself through high school and college to enter this profession? (Example: classes, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, internships, etc.)
- What does a typical day look like for you?
- How many hours do you spend working in a typical week?
- What is the usual career trajectory? (Example: How long does it take a newly minted lawyer to actually become a partner and how likely is that to honestly happen? There can be years of horrific hours and go-fer work before someone reaches the pinnacle of their profession).
- How much flexibility is there to set my own hours or work part time?
- Is it possible to leave your work at the office or does it follow you home?
- Has your career met your early expectations?
- What is the worst thing about this job?
- If you had to do it again, would you pursue this?
- Is there any other advice would you would have for me?
These are just baseline questions to get started. There will be others pop up during the discussion.
Things to research after the interview:
1. Income ranges in this profession from starting salary to a 20-year-veteran’s salary.
2. What will it cost to prepare for this career:
- Undergraduate degree
- Professional school
- Opportunity costs – what are you losing in salary each year you are in class, in a post doc, or medical residency?
- How many years will you have to work to pay off the debt for all of the above?
3. What training opportunities are available for this career (traditional college, certificate programs, coding camps, apprenticeships, on-the-job training)? If you want to read more about career research, look at:
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