Author Archives: Peter Mittwede

5 Pieces of Career Advice for High School Students

83893360High school is a unique time in life.  I vividly recall my high school days as a period of immense personal growth, tinged with a bit of fear and uncertainty about the future.  Many decisions in life are made not because we feel we are adequately prepared to make them, but because it is time to do so.  But that is life.  If you are a junior or senior, you’ve likely started getting questions from friends, family, and teachers about your future.

As a high schooler, you are at a stage in which you are gaining increasing amounts of independence, and you are beginning to think seriously about what you want to do with your life.  Of course, that includes pondering where you will go to college, what you plan to major in, and what career you hope to pursue.

If you love science, you are fortunate.  Opportunities for a career in science are numerous and varied.  From teaching, to research, to engineering, to medicine, to administration, to countless other vocations, the options are many.  These fields all have merit, and each is unique and special in its own way.

I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve had people tell you what career you should go into based upon your abilities.  That’s not what I plan to do here.

Below are five simple, general words of advice that should apply to you no matter what field you’d like to go into:

  1. Get involved early – If you’re interested in research, find a laboratory at your local medical center and ask if you can observe or participate in the work.  If you’re interested in teaching, find an elementary or middle school and ask teachers if they would be willing to let you be a guest speaker once in a while.  If you’re interested in medicine, find a doctor to shadow or a hospital to volunteer at.  These are just a few examples of things you can do.  Be creative.  Even if you don’t end up going into those fields, college admissions committees and future employers will be impressed that you took the initiative to get involved.
  2. Keep your options open – As stated above, there are many career options for those who enjoy science.  Certainly it is good to have a clear goal, but know that just because you have your heart set on one career now does not mean you cannot or will not change your mind later.  Be open minded, especially at your current stage, and be willing to explore new areas.
  3. Develop a strong work ethic – Having the desire and ability to work hard will serve you well no matter what you do in life.  People take note of hard workers, especially those who are young.  Strive to be one.
  4. Make an impact – You don’t have to be famous or old or wealthy to make a difference in the lives of others.  Go visit elderly folks at a nursing home.  Volunteer at your local Salvation Army on the weekends.  Join (or create) a school committee that organizes community outreach events.  Again, be creative (by ifland).  Find service activities that you enjoy taking part in, and get a group together of those who share your interests.
  5. Love what you do!  It will show – Whether you are studying, working, playing sports or doing some other extracurricular activity, be passionate about it and have a positive attitude.  People enjoy being around those who are having fun, and a positive attitude is contagious.

If you’re a high schooler interested in a career in physiology, which I hope you are, make sure you check out the American Physiological Society’s Careers in Physiology webpage at http://www.the-aps.org/mm/Careers/Midhigh.  Also check out the Archive’s Collection on Biology Careers (including physiology): http://www.lifescitrc.org/collection.cfm?collectionID=2203.

Do you have any other tips from what you have learned?  Please share them in the comments section below.