How to Use Extracurriculars to Find Your Future Career


Are you a high school student struggling to decide what you want to do for your career? Check out this blog post for some ideas for how to use afterschool activities to help you choose a job.

Finding Your Future

Determining what you should do with the rest of your life is no small thing. Yet high school students - teenagers - are expected to make that decision before they've had a chance to experience much of the world.

So how do you even begin to go about gathering the necessary information - about yourself and the world around you - to decide who you want to become when you grow up? One approach is extracurriculars. Here's how you can use them to your advantage.

Student Government

If you have a knack for leadership, communication, and decision-making, why not give student government a try? This will allow you to learn about how a government functions and to intimately encounter the ins and outs and pros and cons of political life. If it turns out that you love campaigning and making important decisions on behalf of others, it might be worth pursuing a political career path. If, instead, you realize that your favorite part of student government was being attentive to and gossiping about the actions of your peers, maybe you should try journalism instead.

Speaking of which...

A high school student participant in student government

School Newspaper

Do you enjoy writing and keeping up to date on the latest goings-on in the world? Are you constantly flipping between the Twitter, Buzzfeed, and CNN apps on your phone? Do your friends always come to you first for the 411? Then try writing for your student newspaper, which will give you the chance to discover what makes a good story, learn how to write in a concise and straightforward manner, and explore the complexities of journalistic ethics.

If you find you enjoy interviewing others, agonizing over newspaper layouts, and keeping up with the fast pace of a newsroom, journalism might be in your future. If you prefer composing and organizing the pretty pictures, photography or even cartooning might be a better path.

Debating Team

Be honest: Are you one of those people who is always right? Can you convince anybody to side with you in an argument? Or, conversely, are you a measured, careful person who always takes the time to consider both sides of an issue? If either of these descriptions sounds like you, consider joining the debating team as an extracurricular activity. Not only will it help you figure out what you should do in your future, but also provide you with an outlet for, well, arguing. Your parents are sure to appreciate it.

As a member of the debating team, you'll have the chance to learn about important issues and develop the ability to use rhetorical skills to successfully advocate for either side, defending your point and anticipating counterarguments. If this is something you love, a career in law might be right for you. And if it turns out that you have a better time helping your friends prepare for their debates, you might just be a born life coach or advice columnist.

Art, Drama and Music Activities

High school provides many opportunities for all sorts of artistic extracurricular activities, including art club, drama club, band, choir, orchestra, and more. If you're a creative person who has a point of view you want to share with the world - or, let's be honest, if you just have a lot of angst and feelings weighing heavy on your heart that you need to release - we highly recommend you give at least one of these activities a shot. You'll hone your skill in a specific type of creative expression, performing or producing work that represents you as a person. If you find yourself addicted to the thrill of creating visual art or performing on stage, it's well worth considering a future in the arts; plus, you'll have all sorts of cringe-worthy artwork and performances to look back on in adulthood.

A high school student doing visual arts as an extracurricular activity


One common extracurricular activity that most students dabble in is athletics. Whether you play seriously or casually, whether you choose baseball, basketball, football, soccer, lacrosse, tennis, track, or any of the other athletic options available to you as a high school student, you'll quickly learn whether or not you're passionate about teamwork, physical challenges, and competition. If nothing gets your heart beating like sports, think about pursuing athletics as a career. If, instead, you realize that you prefer solitary activities, you might be a great accountant. Or long-haul truck driver.

High school student athletics as an extracurricular

Community Service

Interested in an extracurricular activity that's worthwhile no matter your interests? Then how about volunteering?

There's no better feeling than getting out into your community and helping somebody who's in need (while acquiring those all-important community service hours colleges want to see). There's a volunteer activity appropriate for every personality, whether you choose to offer your help to an animal shelter, soup kitchen, public library, youth program, or other organization. If it turns out that you feel very passionate about contributing to a cause bigger than yourself, the non-profit sector might be right for you. If not... have you ever thought about trying to be a social media star? (Kidding!)

And More!

There are dozens of other extracurricular activities that can help you find your future career. Do you love the U.S. Academic Decathlon? Consider a career in academia. Are you the president of your school's creative writing club? Consider majoring in literature. Have you been making videos with your friends in your free time? Maybe a career in film would be a good fit for you.

The most important thing is to pursue your interests and see if they give you any ideas about a future career. Whatever you choose, we're sure you'll rock it!

Looking for some more career guidance? Check out's library of helpful career articles.

By Daisy Rogozinsky
January 2019
k-12 student resources

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