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First off, a heartfelt congratulations for completing high school! This is it! You’ve officially completed the first and most metamorphic phase of your life. On top of receiving sound bites of advice from your teachers, contemporaries, peers, and parents, you’re probably wondering what your next steps are. Talking to the people around about their experience and thoughts is an important part of the process.
And in the online world that we live in today, your timeline could also lined up with ads telling you either you can instantly make tons of money online just by copying other people’s stock market behaviors, or colleges have hunkered down and thrown you into a pile of enticing ads.
Before you decide on doing anything, we would like you to know that:
- Nothing is written in stone
- There’s no panacea of solve-it-alls
- It’s going to be exciting but challenging
- The journey is probably going to be cathartic
- Begin every day by asking yourself questions and make it a mission to find as many answers to them as you possibly can
There is no right or wrong answer to this question. But…you can help shape your future knowing or getting first-hand experiences on what could happen for the next phase of your life, or at least, a major portion of it. You can also learn up about some of the fastest-growing professions in the world.
The following is a list of potential first baby steps towards your future.
Getting paid for part-time jobs to gain experience
Taking on part-time jobs could open the door to social interactions at levels you’ve never experienced before. You’ll discover a world of iron-clad deadlines, sales targets, irritated customers, demanding bosses, office politics, and the spiteful photocopy machine that never seems to work. Most high school leavers sign up for part-time jobs precisely for this purpose. To give them an idea about what lies in a world outside of their protected school environment. And not everyone’s great at studying; if you feel that getting into a college or university isn’t the right path for you, talk to your family and friends about it. Getting your foot in the door of a real-world work environment right off the bat could be the path to take.
Pros: Nothing beats first-hand experiences. And on top of that, if you’re still staying at home with your parents, here’s your chance to stockpile some extra cash for something you want to embark on in the future. By diving headfirst into an unfamiliar environment, you’ll have a clearer picture of what works and doesn’t work for you.
Cons: Your options, as far as a career path is concerned, is possibly narrow and limited. The employment arena is very competitive with skilled workers armed with pitchforks and clear, definitive self sales pitches are the people you’re up against. There’s a chance that you’ll soon find yourself bored with counting cash at the cashier counter, organising files, fixing the same ole Cappuccino repeatedly, or walking in and out of the kitchen a thousand times a day.
Attending seminars and workshops
You’re young, you’re unsure, you’re full of drive and passion, you’re ready for the world…and the world of seminars and workshops are always calling out for people like that. Although seminars and workshops tend to try to pump people up for specific callings, if you’re interested in having a microscopic view into it, why not? It’s your time to figure out what kind of person you are and want to be. For instance, if, along the way, you discover that a college degree could be a waste of money because that’s not who you are, this could be the way to figuring it out. Seminars and workshops for school leavers are also manned by some of the most inspirational and adrenaline-filled communities. Let some of that rub off on you. They’re also well-connected people with some strings to pull, so, if they point you in a direction that you think you might be interested in, this could be the lifeline you’re looking for.
Pros: There will be tons of ideas to digest. One thinks that starting an online business when you’re young and energetic is the way to go, another thinks that you’re perfect for the insurance industry. Seminars also tend to be biased towards their sponsors or the companies/industries hired by them. Don’t sign up for something just because they’re available at a time convenient to you. Pick and choose wisely, it is a great time to think things through and find things out about the next phase of your life.
Cons: Seminars and workshops aren’t cheap. It could run bills to the tune of thousands of dollars per seminar/workshop and since your parents are the ones forking out the mullah for it, you could be facing the music if, at the end of it all, you remain uncertain. There’s a pressure to that. Seminars are also kind of unstructured and random and this could open you to too many ideas and lead you astray.
Taking a break
Not everyone will agree with this but, frankly, after more than a decade of studying and mulling over books and worrying about exams, you deserve a break. For most people, taking a break isn’t about doing nothing and playing computer games until 4a.m. in the morning. A lot of things could be going through your head during idle hours and it’s the perfect time to start thinking about your future. Spend some time connecting with people in industries you’re interested in (we’re living in an online world right now, take advantage of that) and you’ll discover yourself through experiments and networking.
One good example would be Youtube pilates star, Cassie Ho, who is a classic case of an accidental Youtube star. After graduating from high school, Cassie moved away as part of her plan to teach pilates in a 24-hour gym. She promised her friends that she would post videos up on Youtube for them. Every day since posting her first 10-minute pilates packed workouts on Youtube, she saw giant leaps in the audience.
Pros: You could dive into books and literature if you’re interested in mass communication, learn basic programming through an online course, conduct interviews with people in your preferred industries for your blog or personal assessment, or you could spend time networking with other medical students if you’re thinking of becoming a doctor. If you’re into photography, take the bus to a bucolic neighbourhood and start building your portfolio. There are so many things you can do with your time during the break.
Cons: Different people could be pulling you in different directions, or you could end up feeling tired and overwhelmed. In fact, there’s a possibility that spending too much time on a break after high school could result in an unmotivated person. UNLESS you keep your focus and wake up every single day with a mission in mind.
Start working from bottom-up in an industry that you like
Some people get lucky that way, finding a bottom position in an industry they’re interested in. It doesn’t matter if you’re hired as the errand boy in the massive computer gaming company of your dreams, just having the opportunity to have an insider look into what the world looks like is an awesome stroke of luck. Some of the best people in the world start from rock bottom. Their willingness to learn, enthusiasm, insights, personal knowledge, skills, and persistence might catch the eye of the talent acquisition team.
Pros: The salary is not enough to get you your dream ride. And it can sometimes take years upon years to clamour your way to the top when you’re there on the bottom rung. The good thing is that you can use this as a way to pay for a night class for a diploma related to the industry that you’re in. If you spend time improving yourself and your grades, that’s the kind of spunk employers really like.
Cons: There are quirks in every industry and the sad truth is that you might end up being jaded with what you see of the real world. Compared to the picture-perfect one you’ve envisioned about the preferred industry, you might end up feeling a little lost all over again.
It might take you some time to find a company to intern with but many companies are looking for good ones all the time. Being an intern, be it with a small or an international company, is always an amazing way to test out the waters, to dip your toes into the pool to see if the temperature is right. Short internship programs will give you insights into the profession you have an interest in and if it falls short of your expectations, many other companies are on the lookout for good, reliable, teachable, and enthusiastic interns.
Pros: Learning the ropes of the industry is much easier when you’re right in the thick of things. You get to test-drive the career before you are in it. Most internship programs with major companies offer reasonable remuneration and on top of that, it’s an experience that will make your resume look good.
Cons: There’s so much to learn during an internship if you go with the right one. But on the other hand, interns are also expected to do the whole laundry list of things ranging from fixing the morning coffee to picking up your bosses’ kids from school. Interns are also not paid very much so, if you’re trying to fund your college degree, this might not be the right path financially.
The internet may have made the world a smaller place but right out of high school, you ought to get as much experience and exposure as you can get. Travelling while working might be for you if you love learning about the countless different ways of the world. When presented with the chance to work and travel, many people will grab it tightly with both hands. By working abroad, not only will you be exposing yourself to a new industry or business but you’ll also be opening your mind to new cultures which are not apparent in your home country. It’s a good thing if you’re adaptable.
Pros: As mentioned, working abroad can give you insights into the work and life culture of people from another region. It also makes travelling more affordable since you’ll be getting a reasonable wage for your work. Suffice to say, people who are open to different cultures tend to fetch a higher salary.
Cons: You’re away from your family and friends, in a strange land, people speak different languages and indulge in different things, and this might make you feel a tad lonely after a couple of weeks. On top of that, you’ll be spending a lot of time working and might not get the chance to enjoy your leisure hours as freely as you might have wished.
Starting a business
Some people are just born with business acumen, street smartness, and the desire to build a financial empire. These people, as studies have shown, may not have the best grades in high school. In short, you don’t actually need a college or university degree to become a successful business owner. It’s in knowing the tricks of the trade. If you’ve spent your school days side hustling and believe you have an idea and what it takes to make it in the business world, you might want to hit the entrepreneurial highway.
Pros: As a business person, the sky’s the limit and you’ll get the chance to realise your own dreams instead of focusing on helping others turn their dreams into reality. If you’ve got it figured out, your path towards owning and running your own business empire might get its boost right from the get-go.
Cons: All businesses require the initial funds to get off the ground, the only difference being the amount. Starting a business is also risky business, no matter the industry. Speaking to a genuine business person, you’ll discover that running a profitable business can be tougher than being employed or becoming a brain surgeon. So, think hard about it.: As a business person, the sky’s the limit and you’ll get the chance to realise your own dreams instead of focusing on helping others turn their dreams into reality. If you’ve got it figured out, your path towards owning and running your own business empire might get its boost right from the get-go.
Volunteering has not been given the kind of credit it deserves. By volunteering, there’s lots of high-quality experience to be gained! People in the business of volunteer work are not driven by financial gains; instead, they wake up every morning ready to contribute to a cause they’re passionate about. A volunteer is given the space and time to test out the career, rack up some hours doing things that other organisations may not offer, like travelling to another part of the world and learning about different cultures. PLUS, it will look awesome on your resume.
Pros: Volunteering is made for people who are geared towards making a difference in the world or community. Funds are almost always short, begging is sometimes involved, and time is always tight. In these environments, people tend to soak up more experience and skills than they have bargained for. You’ll also end up feeling really good about the mark you’ve left in the hearts of people you’ve touched and changed. It’s the kind of perk no amount of money can ever be compared to.
Cons: The main purpose of being a volunteer is, of course, to do unpaid work for a good cause. With no remuneration, you will be forking out your own money to be a part of the program. Instead of being paid to learn, it’s another way of paying to learn the ropes about an industry you’re passionate about.
Whatever you choose to do right after getting your high school diploma will not, however, dictate your career for the rest of your life. So, relax, think, and decide based on your inclination. There’s no right or wrong answer.
Think about it this way instead: whatever you do right after high school, be it interning, taking on part-time jobs, or signing up for seminars, it has to look good and pad up your resume in the future. It has to teach you about an industry you’re interested in or give you the ability to handle situations you might find yourself in in future.
We wish you the best of luck!
In the meantime, while thinking about what to do right after high school, why not contact us and speak to one of our staff about enrolling for a university or college degree right here in Malaysia, one of the fastest-rising educational hubs in the world? We look forward to hearing from you soon.