Dear High School Senior:
As you begin your senior year of high school, you are entering an exciting period of your life. Your senior year is one you'll not likely forget as you begin to recognizethe success of finishing thirteen years of education. Important decisions about your future such as plans to go to college, enter the workforce, or join the military, will need to be made. Regardless of your decision, over the next ten years, the world will rapidly change and present new challenges and opportunities to your generation. Innovation is moving at an ever-quickening pace: Facebook is just eight years old and the iPhone is only five years old. Just in the past two years, governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya have fallen. The lives of their citizens dramatically changed. Europe now faces a major financial crisis with countries such as Greece, Spain, Italy, and Portugal struggling to pay their national debts.
You will be a participant in these significant global challenges. Employers are hiring individuals around the world based on talent – you will be competing with highly qualified global applicants, including many from developing economies such as China, India, Brazil, and Vietnam. Being proficient in foreign languages is becoming more and more important.
Success is not dependent upon where you start; success is dependent upon your willingness to focus on obtaining the skills needed to succeed, and deciding what success means to you. This comes through both formal education and experiential learning in the job market. In my case, I started community college before joining the United States Navy. After my military service, I graduated from college and law school, practiced law, bought a small business for $7,500 (a donut shop), and used the skills learned in all of these areas to build successful companies.
Throughout the next year, think about your goals. Goal setting and planning is vital to success. What do you want from your career? Starting school living in public housing and watching my parents struggle financially, I focused my education in the areas where I believed I could secure a job paying well enough for me to build a family. Take this year to consider your future education and career plans. Talk with your guidance counselor and take advantage of the college and career planning tools provided by the Florida Virtual Campus (www.flvc.org) and the Florida CHOICES program (www.flchoices.org). Attend job fairs and find out from employers what skills and experiences are in demand. Plan your future education along those lines, always considering what talents you can offer an employer. Why should they hire you, or what knowledge and experience do you need to work for yourself?
Find a job or internship - even a very basic workplace experience will serve you well in the years to come. It will give you a perspective on the skills you need to develop to be successful in the workforce, and it will help guide you in the future. The skills you learn and the individuals you meet will be valuable when applying for a permanent position. By working hard, developing skills, and setting goals, you will provide yourself many opportunities in the corning years.
While life may present you with difficulties, I encourage you to persevere. Your hard work will pay off. I wish you the best as you finish high school and enter the world as an adult. Your family and friends are excited to watch your journey.