Looking toward the future: Getting kids thinking about their career path

For young minds looking into future career paths, the options are seemingly limitless, with professions to fit every talent and passion.

From middle and high school students to incoming college freshman, finding the perfect college that fosters an engaging environment to forge ahead on their chosen path is essential.

The following are questions to consider which will help define personal passions, skill sets and lifestyle needs – all important pieces of the puzzle.

Identifying your interests

While you don't have to enter college with an exact plan for your future profession, being aware of your passions can certainly help. Consider the following questions to bring your interests to mind:

  • What topics excite you at school?
  • Do you have any interests or hobbies outside of school?

Many colleges offer career planning courses to help guide entering students to the perfect college major. There are also various tests available to match a student's interests with specific occupations.

As you search, try not to limit yourself by thinking your passions can't translate into successful careers. You may encounter occupations you weren't aware of that put your interests to work in unexpected ways. For example, students with an appreciation for art and science and an interest in environmental issues may look into the world of landscape architecture. This profession plans, designs and manages a variety of small and large scale outdoor projects including parks, residential developments, campuses, urban plazas, streetscapes, waterfront developments and trail systems.

Undergraduate and graduate degrees are available; an undergraduate degree requires four to five years of study in design, construction techniques, art, history, natural and social sciences. To find out if your passions match with this rewarding industry, visit www.asla.org/yourpath.

Identifying your abilities

Equally important to your passions are your natural abilities, skills and talents to guide you to your profession. To help you think about your skills, consider these questions:

  • What classes do you succeed in?
  • Have you been acknowledged with any awards or recognition?

Further research can help you match your skills into specific disciplines. For example, the skills required for a landscape architect include a combination of natural abilities and learned skills, such as an understanding of the arts and design elements; as well as a technical ability to translate a design into a built work. Formal education can help you develop the knowledge necessary to pursue professional work in this field.

Recognizing value

The perfect job will also support what you value in life. Consider these questions to determine your personal values:

  • What motivates you to do work?
  • Do you value working alone or with peers?

While a job may sound good on paper, it is important to find one that fulfills you personally. Casting a wide net as you consider the possibilities may reveal fulfilling career options that let you focus on your values in ways you never imagined. Returning to the example of landscape architecture, this may be a good path of study if you are interested in melding creativity with science or attentive to environmental issues. Landscape architects play an important role in creating healthy environments and implementing projects that respect both the needs of people and the environment.

Dig deep and ask yourself the important questions. Begin your college search with a basic understanding of your interests, skills and work values, and you'll be on your way to the right profession.

Source: American Society of Landscape Architects