chalk board with a hand writing the words dream job

Seeing the Benefits of Early Career Planning

Headshot of Nashla Dawahre

Nashla Dawahre, Assistant Director of MyCareerShines

The fall semester is here, and students are trading in their beach towels for textbooks and thinking about what their future may hold. For many that includes exploring college campuses, for others, it means attention to detail in their college applications, yet some may still be unsure of their path. Throughout their time in high school students are faced with never-ending questions as to what career path they want to pursue; some students make up answers to these questions because they just aren’t sure. Thankfully there are options and services available to help students prepare for in-demand careers.

According to Gallup, 49 percent of students have found that career service options are beneficial in finding and getting a good job after graduation. Career services programs help students discover their passions, interests, and skills to find the career that is right for them. The problem is that too often students never turn to career services to help them navigate their future. There are increasing benefits to figuring out what career path is best before it becomes too difficult to turn back.

The biggest benefit of early career planning is the cost to students. According to Inside Higher Ed, nearly a third of first-time college students choose a major and then change it at least once within three years. This can force students to delay their time to graduation, costing them more money in the long term. By having a plan early on, say before the student applies to college, students can graduate on time without the extra costs that come with delaying their time to graduation. Career planning early can not only save students money in the long term, it can also give them a sense of direction.That sense of direction begins with students sitting down and thinking about their interests and skills.

When students reflect on the things that bring them joy and fulfillment, starting at an early age, it can help them decide what they want to do for a living. Rather than battling the admissions roller coaster and feeling unsure about their future, students who have worked on a career assessment throughout high school feel a sense of direction and are encouraged to move forward in their post secondary choices. However, it is important that students self-reflect during this time, considering their high school years are influenced by their peers, teachers, and parents. When students reflect on their own skills and interests, it can help them to prepare mentally for a future career. Through early career planning students should examine not just their interest and skills, but also their favorite pastimes and hobbies; student can find their chosen career path in the most unlikely of places. In identifying their interests early, students create a solid foundation for their future and work towards realistic career goals. One of those career goals should be gaining experience in their chosen field early on.

Through internships, work-study programs, and volunteer experiences, students can learn more about their chosen career path and discover if it is the right one for them. With a direction in mind students should reach out to those in the industry and gain a better understanding of the field and what are the requirements for access to the profession. For example, if your student is interested in becoming a lawyer encourage them to visit a law office and shadow a lawyer for a few days to experience the life of a lawyer. These internships and work-study programs help students to identify whether or not they actually enjoy their chosen field of work or not. One of the added benefits of students starting early with internships is their chance to network with people in their field.

By starting to plan for a future career early on students can begin to grow their professional network. Having a professional network can help students when they begin to plan for the job hunt. Those in a student’s professional network, such as employers, contacts, and other employees, can be beneficial in writing letters of recommendation and as an added reference. Network contacts can also provide necessary advice and guidance to students on the industry, and possible job offers available, further helping them to understand what a career in their chosen field would entail. Internships and networking not only help students in their job hunt but can also help them in their educational goals as well.

Once students set their career goals, map out a plan, gain some experience, and explored their chosen field, they feel more confident to apply to different colleges and universities which can help them reach their goals. Career planning early can also give students a leg up when they are planning to apply to different colleges and universities. Part-time jobs, internships, and other experience show admissions offices that students are forward-thinking and motivated. This motivation sets students up for future successes in college and outside of college and even makes students stand out to admissions offices. By planning ahead, students are more likely to stay on their chosen path throughout college and graduate on time. In Florida, students can begin planning their educational and career goals ahead of time with an important tool, MyCareerShines.

MyCareerShines, is designed for middle and high school students and adults, to help them identify and obtain the education they need for the career they want. The assessments are aligned to career clusters and occupational pathways to help students match their interests, skills and work values with an in-demand job. MyCareerShines also offers students the chance to explore the most in-demand careers, learn about Florida’s top jobs, and discover new careers they may not have considered. The tools on MyCareerShines’ website offer students the chance to gain insights into the career process as well, from learning how to write a resume and cover letter to preparing for a successful job interview. MyCareerShines sets students on the path to success. Too often students are unsure of the career path they should take. STEM majors, business, information technology and healthcare are a few of the degree programs students can explore with MyCareerShines.

Without programs, such as MyCareerShines, students have a difficult time deciding their career path and are often left in limbo when it comes to decision-making. The MyCareerShines tool and other resources available help students create a personalized plan that puts them on track and keeps them on track, to professional success.


Lee, Bryan. (2015, July). 5 Benefits of Early Career Planning. Retrieved from: (2016, January). The Significance of Early Career Planning. Retrieved from:

Career Vision. (2017). Start Early, Start Smart: Career Planning in High School and College. Retrieved from:

Hansen, Randall. (2018). 10 Tips for Successful Career Planning: An Activity for Job Seekers of All Ages. Live Career. Retrieved from:

Weber, Susan. (2017). The Importance of Planning Your Career Path. Retrieved from:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Career Advising & Professional Development. Make a Career Plan. Retrieved from:

Salpeter, Miriam. (2014, Feb). Why It’s Important to Think About Your Career in High School. U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved from: