First summer job is a chance to test-drive skills


Isaac Baronikian, 16, will enter grade 12 in September at Parkdale Collegiate.

As the end of the summer draws near, and my final week at CareerMash comes to a close, I’ve found myself in a much more reflective state of mind than I’m usually in. During my two month internship this summer, I learned a lot more than I thought I would – not only a wealth of office ‘soft skills,’ but also on a more personal, introspective level.

After being a part of a professional environment for a reasonable amount of time, I began picking up on some of the subtleties that may often be overlooked by youth – subtleties that can make all the difference when interacting with people in the professional world.

In emails, I began using more specific, intellectual language, communicating my point as concisely and neutrally as possible. This is mostly for the sake of efficiency. If a co-worker is reading your email looking for information and instruction, it doesn’t make sense to coat it with arbitrary sentences that don’t add anything.

I also began to care significantly more about my online identity - the image of you that exists on social networks, in articles, etc. Most high school students (including myself) pay little attention to who may be viewing your Facebook or Twitter profiles, and so don’t ‘censor’ what they post. While this may be fine for your friends, it isn’t for your employers.

My first step to improving my online identity was creating a LinkedIn profile (essentially a professional Facebook), listing all of my skills and interests, as well as my employment at CareerMash. This is only a start, and I will be continuing to try and separate my personal persona from my work persona online.

Working at CareerMash, I had the opportunity to perform quite a large range of tasks – some familiar, and others not. I was able to start picking out what I found engaging and what bored me to shreds. I had thought that two of my hobbies - graphic design and filmmaking - would be the most exciting and that repetitive data entry tasks the least.

While I was mostly correct about this, I found that although I enjoy having those hobbies as a pastime, they aren’t something I would want to do professionally, for a career. If there’s one thing I take away from my time here at CareerMash, it’s that I now see the value in test-driving as many varying fields and careers as you can, early on.

Personally I don’t think anyone can be able to know what they want to do for the rest of their life after finishing high school, but knowing what you don’t want to do is a great place to start.

I’d like to conclude with a few thoughts about ‘the job hunt’. Getting a job as a high school student can be impossibly frustrating – especially when you apply to the same places as every other high school student for the summer. Instead of applying to Pizza Pizza, or a local restaurant, try searching online for a more engaging, career-oriented internship style position – LinkedIn and Kijiji are generally good places to start.

As I’m finding however, a powerful deciding factor for employers is the value of the connections that you have. For us high school students, this is daunting. But there are options – we don’t have to take a careers course to take advantage of the teachers! Try  approaching your guidance or careers teacher with some kind of plan to show your commitment and see if they can help you secure a position for the summer (or otherwise).

Here’s to all the high schoolers starting to figure the world and their selves out. Get out there and taste the many flavors of the career rainbow!

Read Isaac’s previous CareerMash blog posts and creations

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