Some people simply take whatever job comes their way. While this approach sometimes works out, it's much smarter to think carefully about the career you would like and then work to achieve it. After all, you'll spend most of your waking hours at work. Wouldn't it be better if that work were satisfying, challenging, and worthwhile?

Setting and Achieving Goals

Career goals are like a road map to your future. As with other goals, you need both long term and short term career goals. If you decide you want a career as a kindergarten teacher, that's your long term goal. Getting there will take years and require many smaller achievements. To reach your long term goal, you will need short term goals, specific actions to achieve in the next few days, months, or year. Without short term goals, it's less likely that you will achieve your long term goals.

Developing Skills for a Lifetime

Preparing for a career involves more than learning about careers and setting goals, You also have to prepare yourself for the working world. In the past, people often stayed in the same company all their lives. Today this isn't the case . People tend to change careers several times.

To succeed in today's working environment, you need to be flexible and willing to change, You also must commit to being a life long learner, willing to learn new information and acquire skills throughout your working life. These qualities will make you a more effective worker and a valued employee.

Now is the time to build the skills you will need for future employment. Some of these skills require training related to a specific career. Others are more universal skills that every worker needs to be successful.

You can start building these skills right now:

Personal Qualities- Employers look for employees who are enthusiastic, committed, responsible, respectful, and willing to take initiative. Personal integrity and taking pride in one's work are also high on their lists.

Interpersonal Skills - Employees must get along with co-workers, supervisors, and customers. They must have leadership skills and work well in teams made up of people from diverse backgrounds.

Basic Skills - To succeed at work, employees need to be able to solve math problems. Strong communication skills - verbal, nonverbal, written and electronic are also key to positive relationships on the job.

Thinking Skills - Employers need workers who are able to learn, reason, think creatively, make decisions, and solve problems.

Management Skills - Employees must be able to set goals and use available resources - information, time, materials, skills, and people to get the work done efficiently. Being well organized is important to managing well.

Technology Skills - Most jobs require the ability to use computers. For many jobs, technology skills are classified as basic skills. Many o ther career require highly specialized training in technology.