How can career skills be learned in after-school jobs?

Even if it isn’t related to your career path, after-school jobs can teach valuable skills that will help in your future career search.

When young people get jobs in high school or college, they are often looking for something to help pay bills, not something necessarily related to their expected career path.  However, even in these jobs, youth can learn valuable career skills that will help them later in life. 

A key concept to think about is that in any job you are in, one should always be working towards the next job.  Think about what kind of recommendation your supervisor could give you, and work to make that recommendation something amazing!  Your track record of showing up for work, attitude, how well you accomplish tasks, how well you interact with the public or co-workers, and how you solve problems will all be part of how your current supervisor talks about you and your work. 

Adult facilitators can help guide youth in their practice of career skills with the assistance of several 4-H resources.  One such resource is the new 4-H curriculum Build Your Future: Choices… Connections… Careers (written by Michigan 4-H staff).  The curriculum contains nine activities that can be used in succession or individually. The last activity, Pathways to Success, focuses on topics of professionalism.  Groups can work through various scenarios together or individually through the online course. 

In any job, there are several areas of maintenance and professionalism to consider.  Time management, stress management, professional development, teamwork, communication skills, and business etiquette are all important to how you are perceived in your workplace.  No matter if your afterschool job is flipping burgers, clerking at the grocery store, or feeding cows, you can increase your skills in these areas to help with your next job. 

Looking for additional resources? Be the best you can be at work! is another source of tips on how to conduct yourself professionally while at the workplace. MSU Extension also has resources to help you with your professional development and making sure you grow in your career. More information can be found on the Michigan 4-H career website.

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