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It’s never too early to daydream about your future career. Remember in elementary school when you sported a white doctor’s coat with a stethoscope and pretended to treat patients or taught your favorite subject to a group of imaginary students? In middle school you probably have a better idea of what you enjoy doing and can most likely identify your passions. That’s why the middle school years are a great time to explore careers. There’s no pressure to make a life altering decision in a short amount of time, and you can pursue your passions simply for the joy of it. But how can you turn your passion into a career? While there may not be an easy answer, there are steps to guide you through the process.

Assess Interests, Values, Skills Explore Careers Choose Career Options Compare & Rank Options Set Career Goals

The career exploration and decision-making process incorporates five steps: assessing interests, values, and skills, exploring careers, choosing three career options, comparing and ranking your options, and setting career goals. When assessing your interests, values, and skills, ask yourself these questions. What do you like to do in your spare time? What do you value most? What comes naturally to you? What do others say you are good at? There are plenty of online quizzes you can take to answer these questions, but we recommend using the free resources listed below.

Interest inventory
My Next Move
https://www.mynextmove.org/explore/ip

Values Assessment
Worksheet
https://tinyurl.com/y2t3mmgr

Skills
Career One Stop Skills Matcher
https://www.careeronestop.org/toolkit/Skills/skills-matcher.aspx

After assessing your interests, values, and skills, the next step is exploring career paths. There are thousands of jobs spanning a variety of industries, many you have probably never heard of like pet food tester and urchin diver. At this point, you’re not trying to find the “perfect” job and you don’t even have to be realistic. Your task is to learn more about what jobs are out there. Using the online resources below, research the job duties, education and training requirements, salary, job demand, and all other qualifications of a variety of jobs. Then complete this career research worksheet for five occupations that interest you.

Occupational Outlook Handbook
https://www.bls.gov/ooh/

O*Net
https://www.onetonline.org/find/

Career One Stop
https://www.careeronestop.org/ExploreCareers/Learn/career-profiles.aspx

Now that you know yourself a little better and have explored different careers, it’s time to narrow down your options. Read our next blog for tips on how to decide which careers might be best for you.