Choosing A Career In Business - A Guide

Thursday, June 22, 2023
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Choosing A Career In Business - A Guide

Preparing for a career in business should start at the high school level. There are many things that a high school student can do to prepare for a career in business, whether that be business management, entrepreneurship, or another area of business. From choosing business electives to taking advantage of every networking opportunity, here is how to prepare for a career in business while in high school.

1. Choose a business area of study and industry.

There are several types of business degrees, and positions requiring a business degree can be found in every industry and sector. This decision is the first step in making sure you choose the right high school classes and undergraduate business programs. Examples include accounting, operations management, and human resources.

Once you have a shortlist of industries and business careers, check the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) digital Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) to determine the feasibility of such a career. The OOH has reported on job market size, average salaries, and growth trends for over 50 years, and is the most reliable source of its type.

2. Participate in high school business clubs and activities.

There are several entrepreneurship educational programs available to high school students through their schools and other organizations. Junior Achievement and Best Prep courses and projects are particularly helpful for business students. Business clubs and activities are also found through DECA and NSHSS membership.

This participation can also lead to scholarships that make it easier to get your business degree. The NSHSS Foundation Business & Public Policy Scholarship is one such program.

3. Build necessary business skills.

There are many skills that employers look for in recent college grads, and the basic skills used daily in business are as important as they are simple. Networking, time management, organizational, communication, and networking skills are all gained from high school business courses. 

Software and technology are the most important of these skills. Business software such as Microsoft Office, Google Workspace, and Quickbooks are necessary in most business settings. High school business classes, internships, and part-time clerical jobs can help build these skills. 

4. Get leadership experience in high school.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), 80% of employers look for leadership skills from recent college graduates. Volunteering and organizing formal projects of any kind can be added to a resume as evidence of leadership skills. This leadership experience is the best preparation for a career in entrepreneurship because you will ultimately be in charge, and investors will want to see that too. 

5. Take advantage of high school internships.

High school internships are more common than you might think. According to a study from the Society of Human Resource Management, about half of employers offer internships to high school students. The BLS reports that 60% of those internships are paid, and Zip Recruiter shows that the average salary for high school interns is $18 per hour. This makes internships preferable to summer jobs for high school students.

6. Build your professional network.

Networking is one of the most important tools in your arsenal for being accepted to your chosen college, landing internships, and starting a career in business after college. All of the activities above are opportunities for networking if you know how to take advantage of them. Practice speaking in public and conversing with strangers to get more comfortable with networking events. Mentorship through NSHSS leadership programs are also helpful.

7. Create a resume and keep it updated.

It is much easier to update a resume than it is to write one from scratch. A great resume offers just the right details about your experiences to get your foot in the door for an interview. Getting those details right is important, and it’s hard to do so if you try to remember them later. Create your business resume while you are still in high school and update it as events occur. This also gives you an effective resume that can be used to land high school or college internships and work-study arrangements.

8. Keep up with business trends and news.

Every business professional knows how important it is to stay up to date with business trends, as well as the politics and events that affect them. It is important to start the habit of keeping up with business news while in high school, and it will benefit you throughout your career in business. Today’s high school students often turn to podcasts, but traditional trade magazines and business publications such as Forbes are also beneficial. 

9. Start a business or nonprofit while in high school.

The post-pandemic gig economy has led to more business opportunities and a greater entrepreneurial spirit in high schools across the country. Starting a business in high school is a valuable experience, even if you fail. That’s why programs like the NSHSS Be More Fund offers grants to high school students starting a business or nonprofit.

Professionals understand that the lessons learned through failure can often be more impactful than those learned through success. Those experiences shape you into a better businessperson, and they give you something to discuss in interviews for college admissions, internships, and job interviews.