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career choice


By: Jack Gaskell – Author of ‘The “Smart Guide” to MARKETING’.

Your student is probably mindlessly playing video games, is bored and looking for something constructive to do. (or so you hope.) Now is the time for them to plan their future.

At the high school level, students should consider career options. Don’t choose a career just because it sounds like fun. Make sure that it will be lucrative enough to support you and a family, won’t restrict where you can live, and won’t require odd hours or excessive travel. I have a friend whose daughter became a marine biologist and later found out that it qualified her to shovel seal poop.


Before spending four years of your life and your parents’ hard-earned money, you should be reasonably sure that your chosen options are right for you. I recommend “shadowing” somebody in the fields that interest you. If you don’t know someone, use the internet. Make a phone call and explain that you’re a high school student interested in becoming an _________ and would like to speak to an _________. Explain to the _________ that you would like to come to his or her office and observe a typical day. Very few people would turn down that kind of request, and it might turn into a summer internship or a job after graduation. If you’re unsure of your specific career choice, call __________ of various specialties to try and gain an understanding of what their jobs entail. Spending time with several __________ would broaden your perceptive.


Don’t “Stumble” into a career

In my case, my father was an electrician. I helped him with side jobs and grew up with an interest in electricity. I chose to take an academic vocational course in high school, radio, television, and industrial electronics, with the goal of becoming a TV repair person. (Do you know anyone, today who’s making a living repairing TVs?)

In my senior year of high school, two of my classmates decided to go to Wentworth Institute in Boston, Massachusetts, for associate’s degrees in electrical engineering; so I applied and was accepted. When my two years at Wentworth were almost complete, a friend in my class told me that he was going to a four-year college for a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering while getting almost two years of credit for his associate’s degree. So I applied at the University of Rhode Island and was accepted—but with no credits for the two years at Wentworth. However, low in-state tuition and the ability to commute from home made this the only realistic option for me.

Instead of stumbling your way through six years to become an __________, plan ahead and do it in four years. In high school, take a college prep course that’s strong in the subjects related to your area of interest.

When selecting a college, make sure that it’s accredited in your area of specialty.

When making a career choice consider both pros and cons.

Make a List of Benefits and Drawbacks

your interests/lack of interest

your skills/lack of the required skills




free time/busy schedule

cyclical industry/steady demand

time spent inside/outside/both

travel opportunities/too much travel/no travel requirements

offers opportunity to own a business/not

require immediate actions/allows time for thoughtful decisions

low stress/high stress

high demand/low demand

puts you in an adversarial position/not adversarial

deadline pressure/leisurely pace

profitably pressure/nonprofit

periods of too little or too much work/steady work

limits where you can live/no limit

high cost and time for education and internship/low cost and time

Evaluate your entrepreneurial nature/motivation.


Do You Want to Own a Business?



You have a much higher earning potential.

You have pride of ownership.

You get the benefits of being the boss.

You get to make all the final decisions.

You can’t get laid-off.

You get to keep the profits.

You can pick and choose the most appealing tasks to personally handle and assign the others to your staff.

You can pursue the most interesting and profitable projects/products/clients.

You spend time socializing with clients and potential clients.

If you’re successful and hire an able staff, you’ll have a valuable asset to sell when it comes time for your retirement.



Stress—There’s always stress when owning a business. Some people thrive on it; others wilt. You need to decide if the benefits/advantages outweigh the drawbacks/disadvantages.

Be prepared to make sacrifices. When I was new in business as a consulting engineer and still operating alone, work slowed down, and my wife and I decided to take a quick driving vacation to Canada. At the last minute, I got a call from my biggest client announcing that he had just promised a client of his to provide a redesign that had to be delivered in one week. It was no fun having to go out to the car to break the bad news to my wife and two small children.

You make the firing decisions. This is particularly hard during the holiday season.

The losses are all yours. On average, I made at least three times more compensation than my fellow engineering classmates, but during one recession, I lost more than my salary for three years in a row.

Employees. The biggest headache in running any business is managing human resources. Often, employees don’t get along with each other or with the clients, and sometimes, they don’t even care about the success of the company that employs them. Regardless, before you know it, you may be responsible for thirty or more mouths to feed. That is an awesome and burdensome responsibility.


Making a Choice

Other than a marriage choice, choosing a career is your most important life choice. If you’re still undecided, I recommend that you go to the website: This is the Occupational Outlook Handbook by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.  It has a wealth of information regarding career choices. First, select an occupational group that interests you. Then, see a list of occupations in that group including job descriptions, entry-level educational requirements, as well as recent median pay levels. Next select a career choice and see details.


My Recommendation

Only you can make this important life decision. But I recommend the following if you have the interest and skills:

  • Choose to be a professional: doctor, lawyer, engineer, architect, accountant, and the like. When people learn that you’re a professional, they immediately assume that you’re smart. You may have never gotten any grade higher than a C; you may have graduated last in your graduating class; and you may have had to take your licensure exam four times before passing. But you’re perceived to be smart because you’re a professional, and potential clients will tend to choose your practice or business
  • Choose a profession that will allow you to operate your own business. If you operate your own business, you’ll have all the advantages described above.

I have recently completed a book on Marketing: “The ‘Smart Guide’ to MARKETING”, that is presently on “Pre-Sale” at the Kindle Store on Amazon, and is due for release on June first.

Related topics include:

Your job search and how to find the right company with which to start.

How to easily and quickly get the interviews that you want.

How to prepare for your interview and be ready for the likely questions.

How to start the job right and make the best first impression.

How to become known, build a reputation and make useful contacts.

How to gain credentials that will distinguish you from your competitors.

How to win awards that will make your resume shine.

Excerpted from ‘The “Smart Guide” to MARKETING’ Copyright © 2020 by Jack Gaskell. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted to copy and distribute this “Smart Guide” tip, upon condition that this message remains. Visit:, for additional tips.