Finding a Job

Deciding What to Look For

Figuring out what sort of job to get is hard. There are lots of different jobs out there and you should find one that interests you and that you are qualified for. Of course you want to find a job where you'll make money and that you can do well, but you also want to make sure your work helps you develop new skills that you can use at future jobs.

Career Idea Checklist

Consider these questions:

a) I know the career field I will enter after high school/college.

  • Yes
  • No

What is it?

If you are interested in more than one type of work, what are they:

b) I know what education I need to end up with the career I want.

  • Yes
  • No

What is it?

c) I have a job right now and I like it.

  • Yes
  • No

d) My current job gives me career training or helps pay for college.

  • Yes
  • No

e) I plan on joining the military.

  • Yes
  • No

f) I am undecided about my future career.

  • Yes
  • No

g) These are some things I enjoy doing:

To print this worksheet, click here.

If you don’t know the answers, don't worry, most people don't! This page will help you think about things to consider and can help you answer these questions.

Job Shadowing

High school students, college students, interns, or anybody else can try job shadowing. In job shadowing, you follow and observe another person as they work. This allows you to experience the day-to-day reality of working in a particular job or industry without having to commit to the job or invest in education and training.

If you are a student, you may be able to arrange a job shadowing opportunity through a career counselor at your school. If you are not a student, you can try arranging job shadowing through the jobs programs described later on, including LiveCareer Centers and Vocational Rehabilitation Services. Click here to read more about how job shadowing can help you learn more about career options.

What Are Your Interests?

Interests are things you like. Try to think if your interests could become your future career. For example, if you have a blog and enjoy writing, maybe you could become a journalist. Plenty of other hobbies could become careers that are enjoyable and fulfilling. For example you might like

  • Gardening
  • Doing repairs around the house
  • Playing video games
  • Cooking

Interests can also be based on what subjects you like at school. If you are good at math, there are many career options for you in the sciences and engineering. You might not yet know how to do some things that interest you – for example, you may be interested in becoming a doctor, but haven’t yet started medical school – but the training and education is available if you want it.

Think about all of your interests and which ones you might want to use in the future at a job. There are many non-profit organizations that can help you explore your interests and begin planning a career. This list includes contact information for many organizations as well as descriptions of the services they provide.

What Are Your Skills?

Skills are things you already know how to do. Think about your skills and which ones you might want to use in a future job. For example, if you are already good with computers and you like to work with them, you may want to think about a career as a computer technician. Skills determine what types of jobs you can get right now.

Of course, if you don’t know how to do something, you can always learn how! Your current skills may limit the job you get today, but they don’t have to limit your long-term career goal. It just means that you will have to learn those skills through an education program or find a job that offers on-the-job training.

What Is Your Career Goal?

Each job you get is a stepping-stone. You will probably have many jobs before you reach your long-term career goal, and have plenty of experiences along the way. You want to make sure that the jobs you get help you reach your final goal.

This means that when you decide whether to apply for a job, think about whether it will help you reach your final goal. Here are some ways in which a job could help you reach your career goal:

  • An entry-level job at a company in a field that interests you can lead to promotions at the same company or a higher-level job at another company after a few years.
  • A job at a company that provides on-the-job training will help you learn skills you need to reach your long-term goal.
  • Some jobs that aren’t directly related to your career goal will require you to practice skills that you will need for your dream job. For example, if you work at a store and help with customers, you will gain experience working with the public that can help you in many fields.
  • Some companies will help you pay for your education.

How Much Money Do You Want to Make?

Money is one of the biggest factors in choosing a job. We all need money to pay our expenses. Some jobs pay a lot more than others. As a young person, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to get a job that will make you rich right away. However, if you have a long-term goal of making a lot of money, that may affect what sort of work you look for today.

For instance, if you want to become a lawyer, you are going to need to go to college and then law school. You'll also have to do internships at law firms. Other types of skilled work also pay well and require different types of preparation. For example, if you want to become an electrician, you may need to do an apprenticeship.

Some professions don't pay as much, but can be very satisfying. For example, if you become a teacher, you'll know that you are doing an important job that truly helps people.


Money is just one of the things that your employer provides. Many jobs also provide employee benefits that can be worth thousands of dollars each year. These benefits can include:

  • Health insurance
  • Life or disability insurance
  • Paid time off for illness, holidays, or vacation
  • Retirement or savings plans

When you are applying for jobs and deciding where to work, make sure to understand the benefits your potential employer offers. They can make an enormous difference.

What Is the Impact of Your Disability?

Depending on your disability, you may not be able to do certain jobs. For example, some jobs require heavy lifting and if your disability prevents you from lifting heavy objects, you may not be able to do that type of work.

Because of your disability, you may want to work from home, have a flexible schedule, or work part-time. Some jobs and employers will be more adaptable to these types of options. Some employers are actually looking for people who can make these sorts of adjustments to their schedules.

Think about these issues, because while employers are required to give you reasonable accommodations so that you can fulfill the obligations of your job, they are not required to change the fundamental duties of a job because of your disability.

Reasonable Accommodations

If you are able to do your job well but need a piece of equipment, an adjustment to your schedule, or some other adaptation to your work environment, the Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to provide these “reasonable accommodations.” Reasonable accommodations are explained in greater detail in the Young People and Benefits' Working article.

Learn more