5 Ways to Prepare Early for the "World of Work"

Are you prepared for life after graduation? Do you know what you want to do once you’re “out there?" Whether it's your graduating year or you have many years of back-to-school seasons to come, there are things you can do now to help you prepare for that dream career you can’t wait to start.

Here are 5 actions you can take this year to help you get a leg up on career readiness.

  1. Gain work experience.
    • Volunteer every chance you get – at fundraisers, for the teacher or school office, at your parent’s workplace – all work experience is good experience.
    • Job shadow – take advantage of P.A. days and March/Holiday break to accompany an adult to work and see what they do all day. If you’re in Grade 9, make sure you participate in The Learning Partnership’s Take Our Kids to Work program!
    • Participate in extra-curricular activities – school clubs, arts groups, sports teams all develop your teamwork skills and give you something interesting to put on your resume.

  2. Build your resume.
    • List all your qualifications such as volunteer and work experience, accomplishments, achievements, and certificates.
    • Update your resume as you gain more experience.

  3. Develop your network.
    • Get involved with your community – it’s a great way to network, meet new people, learn new skills, and get a better idea of your interests.
    • Keep a diary of the new skills you learned and important people you’ve met, including their contact info, after volunteering or participating in different events, clubs, activities, etc. – you never know when you’ll need to call on them in the future for advice or to explore a new opportunity.
    • Build your social media presence to show that you are skilled, professional and personable. Reach out to new contacts who might help you with your career.
    • Get a mentor – find someone other than a parent or teacher who has more life and work experience than you to help guide you through life’s decisions.

  4. Keep an open mind.
    • Try new things – take up a new hobby or do something you think you don’t like and see if you’re right. Find out where your interests and strengths lie. You learn a lot about yourself by becoming immersed in new challenges.
    • Don’t rule out any post-secondary options – university is no longer the only path to success. Thirty-five per cent of students in Canada go straight to the workforce from high school. College and trade apprenticeship programs have high employment rates and many offer lucrative salaries.
    • Conduct “informational” interviews – arrange to speak (by phone or in-person) with someone in a job role/industry you’re thinking of pursuing. Ask key questions (e.g. about how they got started, challenges, education, advice for someone starting out) to help you get the “inside scoop” about the field and if it’s the best fit for you.

  5. Make the most of your school experience.
    • Take advantage of career resources that your school offers – they’re free! Connect with your guidance counsellor, take a career class and see if your school offers aptitude testing and more.
    • Be prepared to be a life-long learner – there is always more to learn about and experience!
    • Be receptive to learning in all situations – learning doesn’t just happen in a formal setting. You’ll be surprised at how much you can learn about the world around you if you just take the time to watch, observe and listen.
4 Careers That May Surprise You
  1. Bicycle Stunt Acrobat – They perform a variety of high-risks stunts for entertainment at festivals, events and other gatherings.
  2. Egg Farmer – These farmers look after domesticated birds and hens for the purposes of farming eggs for food.
  3. Bricklayer – They lay brick walls for brickwork. Bricklaying can also involve laying firebricks inside mines or fertilizer plants.
  4. Shark Aquarist – These biologists get up close and personal with sharks, managing their well-being, feeding them and even scuba diving with them.
For more surprising career options, check out our innovative career app, Real Talk, designed to provide high school students with peer-to-peer perspectives.

These tips are provided by education experts at The Learning Partnership – a national, charitable organization dedicated to advancing publicly funded education through its initiatives, including Real Talk, which connects students with perspectives, tips and advice from those who have already made the school-to-work transition.

For additional information, contact:


Expert available for interviews:
Gerry Connelly
Gerry Connelly
Special Advisor, Education Policy

The former Director of Education of the Toronto District School Board and Director of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Branch in the Ontario Ministry of Education, Gerry Connelly is an expert on education trends and practices. Her career includes teaching and administration in both rural and urban environments in Alberta, the Northwest Territories, the United States and Ontario.