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Planning Your Career Path: A Guide for Students at School

You might be thinking, "I'm only 14 – do I really need to start thinking about my career now?" We certainly think so here at HOP! Planning your career early can set you up for success and help you make the most out of your time in school. With the right mindset you can see that school is an exciting opportunity to think about your future and what you want to achieve.

Here are a few things that we think might aid you and help you start planning for your chosen career:

1. Discover Your Interests and Strengths

It’s very valuable to explore what you enjoy doing and what you're good at. This can be anything from subjects you love in school, hobbies, sport, or even things you enjoy doing in your free time. Make a list of these interests and strengths – this will be your starting point.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help:

What subjects am I good at?

What activities do I not get bored of?

What are my hobbies and why do I enjoy them?

2. Research Potential Careers

Once you have a list of your interests and strengths, start looking into careers that align with them. There are many online resources, including the National Careers Service website, where you can find detailed information about different careers, what they involve, and the qualifications required.

Steps to follow:

Look up job descriptions for careers that you are interested in.

Find out what qualifications and skills are needed.

Research the demand for these jobs in the future. Some jobs might not even exist yet in areas such as Artificial Intelligence.

3. Set Realistic Goals

Setting goals can give you direction and motivation. Think about short-term goals like improving your grades in certain subjects, access our Future Thinking resources all around metacognition to help you learn to learn. Think about long-term goals (like attending a specific university or doing a certain apprenticeships).

Goal-setting tips:

Use the SMART criteria (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound).

Write down your goals and revisit them regularly.

Break big goals into smaller, manageable steps and remember to reward yourself when you complete a step.

4. Choose Your GCSEs Wisely

The subjects you choose for your GCSEs can impact your future career options. Some careers require specific subjects, so it's essential to choose wisely. Talk to your teachers, career advisors, and parents to help you make informed decisions.


Which subjects do you need for your chosen career?

What are your strongest subjects?

Are there any subjects that really interest you?

5. Get Experience

Getting experience can be incredibly valuable. This can include work experience placements, volunteering, or even part-time jobs. These opportunities can give you a taste of the working world and help you build useful skills.

Ways to gain experience:

Look for work experience opportunities in your area.

Volunteer for local charities or community projects.

Take part in extracurricular activities at school like joining the netball team or drama club.

6. Develop Skills

Alongside your academic studies, developing soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving is crucial. These skills are highly valued by employers and can be developed through various activities.

Skill-building activities:

Join clubs or teams at school.

Take on leadership roles, like becoming a head student.

Participate in group projects.

7. Seek Advice and Support

You don't have to navigate this journey alone. Seek advice from teachers, career advisors, family, and professionals in the field you're interested in. Chances are someone you know will know someone in the field you want to be in, whether that be a neighbour or friend of a friend. They can provide guidance, answer your questions, and offer valuable insights.

Who to talk to:

School career advisors.

Teachers and mentors, us here at HOP.

Family members and friends.

8. Stay Flexible and Open-Minded

Your interests and goals might change as you grow and learn more about yourself and the world. It's okay to change your mind and explore new paths. Stay open to new opportunities and be willing to adapt your plans.

Keep in mind:

It’s normal for interests to evolve over time.

Be open to exploring different careers.

Don’t be afraid to try new things and step out of your comfort zone.

9. Keep Learning and Improving

Finally, always strive to improve and learn new things. Education doesn’t stop when you leave school. Lifelong learning is essential in today’s ever-changing world.

Ways to keep learning:

Read books and online articles related to your interests.

Take online courses and attend workshops.

There are often opportunities within jobs to keep learning and grow this is called continuing professional development.

Stay curious and ask questions.

Planning your career is an exciting journey that starts with understanding yourself and exploring the possibilities. Take your time, do your research, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your future is full of potential, and with careful planning and hard work, you can achieve your dreams.

The sky's the limit! 🌟

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