September 6, 2010 | Suzanne Shaffer | Leave a comment When thinking about college, everyone starts to contemplate what they will major in. But there is an even more important decision to make than choosing a major: choosing a career. Career choices drive the choice of a college major. And it’s difficult to choose a major until you know what you want to pursue as a career. You can begin early in life to explore career options. In high school, the exploration will become more focused as you move toward graduation and start thinking about college. Following are 4 tools you can use to move toward that final decision: 1. Volunteering Start early volunteering in areas that interest you. Many teenagers volunteer with their churches or at the local hospitals. But you can expand your reach. Consider volunteering with a political campaign if politics interest you. Think about working with Habitat for Humanity if you have always wanted to be an architect or a contractor. If you want to work with people, volunteer with any non-profit organization and you will get an idea of how they operate. Volunteering can be the spark that peaks your interest and sends you headed in the right career direction. 2. Internships Working in an internship (paid or unpaid) is an excellent way to get some hands-on experience in a particular career path. Search for internships online and find those that interest you, such as: advertising, computer programming, journalism, and even social media. Not only will you get a feel for the industry, but internships look great on your resume and give you real-life job experience before you begin looking for a full-time job. 3. Talking with professionals Talking with people who are currently employed in a profession that interests you will give you first-person insight into that specific field. Speaking with a doctor will acquaint you with the rigors of medical school. Talking with an advertising executive will help you better understand what an agency expects from their new hires. Speaking with a journalist will give you an idea of the type of courses you need to take in college to become a good writer and/or reporter. Seek out family friends or attend community business presentations to connect with one. 4. Following your interests What do you enjoy doing? The answer to this question can be the key to finding your career path. If you’re not good at math and don’t enjoy it, a career in engineering is off the table. But if math is your thing, then there are many career options available: engineering, computer programming, and architecture, to name a few. Your interests will dictate the direction you head and can help narrow down those possible career choices. Using these simple tools should lead you in the right direction. You might discover a career you had never imagined in the process.