Career Exploration Resources for High Schoolers


What do you want to be when you grow up? When you’re little, it’s easy to say anything you want. When you’re older, it gets harder.

When I was in elementary school, I always thought I was going to be an interior designer. When I was in high school, I waffled on this every six months, but ruled out needing upper level science or math classes. At the end of university, I thought I would become a soap opera writer, and now I work in children’s media.

It’s a long way away from being an interior designer, and choosing a paint colour now takes me a really long time. I would probably be in a completely different career if I’d had the information earlier on.

Career information sites are definitely a niche void that requires new, updated, resources, but while those could take years to develop, here are a few select ones to help high schoolers explore different career paths. You never know when a math-hating kid might change tune and become a forensic accountant, because all it takes is information and a suggestion.

Job Futures
This is a good starting point if you have a rough idea of what it is that you’re after. While there’s a list of province-specific sites, which can be great if you’re researching job prospects where you live, some links will lead to the Working In Canada site, where the most useful tool is the Skills, Knowledge and Interests checklist.

One of the most helpful provincial sites is the Alberta Learning Information Service, which is really comprehensive in terms of occupational information (including video clips), and education and career planning. It also looks like it is frequently updated, and provides information on new occupations that have resulted from changes in technology.

Another of the best provincial sites is the Saskatchewan Job Futures site, which can let you generate your own report comparing five different occupations, and browse occupations by alphabetical order or educational level. Listings provide average salary and employment prospect rating.

University of Manitoba – Exploring Occupations – Careers
The University of Manitoba Student Counselling and Career Centre offers comprehensive pages of related links for various occupations, which are listed alphabetically. These links include those of professional organizations, training websites, articles and videos.

National Occupational Classification
Rather than listing by alphabetic order, this guide categorizes different occupations by skill type and levels of occupations. While you might not get into the nitty-gritties of different careers (e.g. User Experience Designers), it offers a good overall idea of career fields, sample duties and example titles.

Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities
This is more of a heavy links site, but useful in terms of pulling those resources together. It offers career quizzes, educational resources and access to job market databases.

Job Junction
Based out of Halifax, Job Junction’s Career Planning Page has a great list of resources for exploring occupations, postsecondary education and funding options.

New York State Career Zone
Though this site has a great deal of New York-related information, users may find value in the self-assessment tools and suggestions of various careers based on the results.

This resource may require some heavy time investment, but could be well worth the effort. Users need to create an account before using it, and once in, have access to career and learning style quizzes, career options and educational requirement resources. The navigation is a bit of a headache, so I would advise opening links as new tabs or windows.

Youth Canada – Careers
It’s nothing flashy, but the content has great potential. You can skip to the specifically career-related information, but most helpful on this site are the links to youth programs like internships and working abroad. You can also find labour market information by province here.

While it may not be super-accurate when it comes to identifying actual careers (I got a series of science-related ones), Life Works lets users input specific skills and interests to narrow down career options, then explain results with descriptions of the occupation, salary range and education level required. Treat this as career exploration for someone who has no idea what they’d like to do. Careers
Listed by alphabetical order, this is a great site detailing specific careers from accountant to zookeeper. A word of warning though that some links may be outdated.

If you find something you like, keep researching by looking for job postings with that title. It will give you a better idea of what kind of experience and background is needed, and the companies that might hire in future or run student internship programs. Schools may also have access to career exploration resources Career and on a subscription basis, so students should inquire of guidance counsellors. For more postsecondary education resources, check out the University of Victoria’s Career Counselling site.

As an additional note, there are programs which can encourage specific skills, like Gene Researcher For a WeekExplore (formerly the Summer Language Bursary Program), or All Hands Volunteers which includes living costs while abroad. Sometimes, it’s the right Google search for a fleeting thought.



Image Source: KCDS