Discovering the job search world as a TEEN

YOU ARE HERE: You now have a reasonably good idea where you want to go, and the state of your equipment, mental and physical.

The explorers who survived their expeditions all had one basic thing in common; they looked where they were going. They didn't just blunder off in whatever direction, looking noble.

Nor did they supply themselves with a lot of useless, heavy baggage. They brought with them what they needed. You can do things like that later, when you have the time.

Stay maneuverable.

Local knowledge

The first thing they did was get local knowledge, and as much of it as they could. They tried to find reliable natives, and they would scout around, particularly ahead, to try and anticipate problems.

old map for teens

Explorers have a right to be edgy.

In the jungle, anything can come at you from any direction. An incoming spear from some course fee or some cost you didn't know about would be the classic examples. Work issues, where the natives are not only restless but hyperactive, would be another.

The explorers would reconnoiter the ground ahead, looking for difficult terrain, hostile natives, wild animals, and, not surprisingly, for the safest routes. Some of them would check out the land for miles ahead, using a lot of observation and keeping a realistic eye on what was possible and what wasn't.

Reconnaissance is also a military technique, and generates a lot of useful information. That information, however, has to be coordinated, and has to help form part of an accurate situation report, to be useful.

The basic idea is to find the problems before they find you.

So, you check out the ground ahead.

A few things you must know:

  • Is this en route to where I'm trying to go?
  • Why do I have to go there?
  • Is the place dangerous?
  • How friendly are the natives, and can I trust what they're telling me?
  • How accessible is it?
  • Do I have the supplies to do this?

Is this en route to where I'm trying to go?

Anyone who's ever got on a train and found themselves miles from where they were trying to go, (just about everyone has), knows what happens afterwards. Time has to be used retracing, and that's really time wasted.

You need a clear path to your objective.

Figure out the course from your destination to where you are now. Anything that doesn't lead to that course is probably going to waste time.

You're young, you've got the time to get there and then see what you can develop from there. Time is valuable, even when you could reasonably think you have some to spare.

Why do I have to go there?

Exploration can't really do much sidetracking. You have to beat a path through the jungle to establish your lines of communication and supply. If you can get trustworthy knowledge without going off into the depths of the jungle, you can do that without expending any effort or resources.

You do still have to check that information, but you're ahead on points, if you can get it remotely.

You also still need local knowledge, if you decide to go there. But with a bit of forewarning, you can go better prepared.

Is the place dangerous?

Danger comes in many forms in the jungle. Places which drain your resources are the most common dangers, where you're spending a fortune a second just to have some food and a place to sleep. You might as well be camped on quicksand.

Cheap and nasty, however, is also dangerous. The cheaper, the better, but the nasty bit you can live without.

The local environment might look mean. It probably is. Check out any local problems with the natives, even a local newspaper, which may have an article on the recent wave of chainsaw massacres.

The place you're checking out may also be dangerous. If you're checking out a degree course, expect large amounts of sales pitch, along with the information. Colleges run commercially on sales, not on academic necessities.

There may well be a lot of people running around looking and sounding academic, but so what? Approach these things like a consumer buying a service, and you'll be speaking the language in no time.

indian - local knowledge

How friendly are the natives, and can I trust what they're telling me?

A car salesman is your best friend until after he's sold you the car. If you then tell the guy that you'd hoped for a transmission, and maybe even a chassis, he doesn't know what you're talking about, and may have difficulty remembering who you are, or were.

Colleges, employment agencies and employers are working on their own needs, which are ultimately purely commercial. They're businesses, as well as services. Their bottom lines really don't have much flexibility.

Some people will be genuinely helpful. But you can help yourself a lot by starting, now, right this minute, to grow eyes in the back of your head.

If you get too carried away with The Great Adventure, you may have difficulty seeing the forest for the furniture franchise.

Everything and everyone looks great, until they're required to work properly.

How accessible is it?

One of the great unsung dangers of the jungle is just getting to any particular place. For some strange reason, the thousands of dollars eaten up in simply being able to get to a place is largely ignored.

If you had to swim a raging river, climb a mountain, and fight marauding wild animals every day to go to work or college, how do you think you'd be feeling after a few years of that?

Most people can go semi-nomadic in going to these places, for a while, at least, but access is a real issue.

If it takes forever to get there, costs a fortune to live there, and uses up time and energy in the process, you need better access. Explorers usually camp close to resources, not liabilities.

Degree of difficulty to navigate safely is a good guide to your operating costs.

Do I have the supplies to do this?

This is a major strategic consideration.

A reconnaissance is by definition a mini-exploration. Think of it as practice.

These are basic survival principles.

You can carry only so much in the way of supplies, and you only had so much to begin with.

Before you even step outside the door, make sure you're as well equipped and prepared as you can be.

It's no longer a matter of romantic ideals of campus life and a great career.

locals not helping new comer

This is all practical, and you have to get it right, even on a scouting mission.

The first thing you need to do is prepare for problems:

Have a way out of whatever happens.

Have some spare money, and some backup, locally, wherever you're going.

Make sure you can get home if you have to, and cover that angle thoroughly.

The more allowances you make for problems, the easier they are to solve.

Your most likely, and most persistent, problem is likely to be money. If it grew on trees, there wouldn't be a tree left standing on Earth.

Don't spend unless it's necessary, and don't spend much, even then, if you can avoid it.

Be realistic. Plan a quick trip, in and out, with or without any sightseeing. Keep track of your times, and make sure someone knows when to expect you at both ends of your trip.

Reconnaissance- Where to look

Now we can get down to some sources of information.

The internet: is a free, whole-package, service, with an advisory Forum. We cover anything and everything, and you can always just post a question on our Forum.

We give advice, not sermons. Our members and experts are people who have either been there, or are there. It's a real world thing, and we try to keep it real and helpful.

Job sites:

The basic advice here is to find sites that deliver what you want. Formatting, speeds, searches, and quality of information can be either great or lousy, and you really can't afford to waste time and effort on things that don't deliver.

Create a portfolio of sites, get your times organized so you can do productive searches and check things out.

Our job search organizer is a pretty useful example of how to get your searches into a manageable condition. (This is a registration page, too, for non-members. It's free, and you can see how we put these things together.

Career information

There are plenty of job sites, but in terms of career exploration, they're more useful as information about training, courses, degrees, and other qualifications.

They're also particularly useful as a way of comparing prices and services.

That's valuable, even if it does mean looking at a lot of advertising.

Career information, however, has to be checked out in detail. You may be committing a lot of time and money with a click or two, so you need to do quite a lot of reconnaissance.

Career information also comes in two basic forms:

  • Qualifications information
  • Professional information

As a teenager, you're mainly going to be looking at Qualifications, initially. However, if you can also build up some professional sources, you'll get a lot of good information, which could be particularly useful if your knowledge base in the area is strong.

Starting with Qualifications:

You will need:

  • Course costs, elements, modules, times, and locations.
  • You need to cost and map out your travel, living costs and accommodation.
  • You need to make comparisons between available course.
  • You need to check out anything that isn't clear about what you're doing, or supposed to be doing.

You need advisory help, throughout these processes. There are a few ways of getting this without undue effort.

The phone

Just ring up and ask. Be demanding, (not pushy, but get value out of your call) and make sure you're being told what you need to know, not what somebody can be bothered to tell you.

Important: With any phone inquiry, think about what you're asking.

Some good inquiries people will be able to figure out what you need, and give you a lot more than you knew you needed, but if you can keep it simple, preferably a yes/no question or several, that's a good start.

Enrollment Information events

Many colleges and training institutions run regular events to attract new students. Fortunately, they provide a lot of information, and they do try to be effective in supplying the information you need. You can also check out the place, have a look at the quality of the materials they use, and do a bit of comparison between what you want and what they're providing.

Career advisory people

These are usually professionals with a lot of current industry experience. They're helpful in so far as they can give you a road map, and help you explore options and possible alternatives. That's valuable, as we explain in the next chapter, but remember, it's your decision.

Informational Interviews

The main difficulty in getting information is the difference between what information you have and what you need to know. An informational interview is where you're asking the questions.

We have some useful material on how to do this, and what you can achieve with one of these interviews, on our Informational Interviews page.

The story is that you ring up and make an appointment with an employer or college to ask your questions.

They allow you a certain amount of time for the interview, so you need to make it work for you.

The big advantage of this is that you'll find yourself talking to someone further up the food chain than a regular inquiry. This will be someone who's able to take you a lot farther, and faster.

You also make a possibly valuable contact, who knows what you're trying to do, knows what information you have, and can fill in the blanks.

Then you can do some actual exploration.