Javier SmithThinking about your future career!

Hello, Nevada high school students! My name is Javier Smith, and I am the Co-Director of the Nevada GEAR UP program. My background is in higher education, and I am lucky enough to partner with the state of Nevada, its institutions of higher education, and the local school districts you attend to help make the pathway to education after high school clearer and easier.

Thinking about your future can feel a bit overwhelming, especially during your senior year of high school. You have to focus on submitting all the necessary documents and applications for community college, university, technical schools, or military service—all while finishing your last year strong! To help put things into perspective, I recommend “walking backwards” from your big goals to help identify what steps you need to take to achieve them.

First, you need to identify a career interest. Then, “walk backwards” from it to answer questions like these: What skills are needed to be successful in that career? Which majors or certificates provide courses that help develop those skills? Are internships or apprenticeships common, or possibly required, before an organization can hire you for the job you want? Here’s an example:

Let’s say you’re interested in a career in advertising. For a career in the advertising industry, you will most likely need to have skills related to business, creative development, sales, and client relationship management. Next, which majors provide the coursework to develop these skills? Getting a degree in Business Administration or Marketing will help you learn about business and advertising as academic disciplines; however, it is also recommended that students interested in advertising as a career also complete an internship or some other experiential learning opportunity outside of the classroom prior to graduation. This means getting some relevant work experience during the summers either through a company’s internship program, or through a summer job in a related field, that will help to set you apart from other applicants when applying for jobs your senior year of college.

I’ve shared this advice with thousands of students and seen it work. Breaking down an overwhelming task (like planning what to do after high school!) into smaller components makes it easier to take on and complete each step. You can apply this to many areas in your life, but I assure you that this strategy can support your goals for mapping out your educational pathway after high school. For additional help working through this and answering questions, seek out your GEAR UP Specialists and GEAR UP First Year College Advisors!

Best of luck with your senior year and beyond!