The Best Career Advice You'll Ever Hear: What to Do When You're 16

Jordan Duke

When I was 16, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. All I knew was that I wanted to make a difference and do something that mattered. So, I started college four years later as an altruistic music major. I spent the next two years changing my major multiple times (which included political science) until I finally returned to my passion, believing my creativity and the arts would be how I would make an impact.

This blog post will discuss some of the best career advice for 16-year-olds. Here are some ways to explore your options and figure out what you want to do with your life. Take these four tips from some of our faculty and staff that will help you find success in whatever path you choose!

  1. "I would tell my 16-year-old self to move out of her comfort zone and take more risks." -Rita Bedoyan, College & Career Counselor
  2. "I would say, listen to your mother... LOL! Reading is very important, and get involved in your school and volunteer in the community to make strong connections. I always say, 'It is not what you know, or who you know, but who knows you.'" -Bonnee Lallouz, Engagement & Advocacy Coordinator
  3. "Make the most of your education! Take college courses while in high school (advance in your credits). Join clubs/teams/groups. In college, foster relationships with professors/staff/advisors. If possible volunteer/intern in sectors that interest you. Oh, and don't forget to step outside of your comfort zone from time to time, you'll be surprised at how far you can go!" -Jessica Villeda, Community Outreach Specialist
  4. "Don't sweat it. You're 16 and there is plenty of life in front of you. Enjoy what you love to do, pursue that, stay passionate and let go of anyone or anything that tries to steal your happiness. Be true to yourself and everything else - the salary, the relationship, and the legacy - will all fall into place to help you continue pursuing what you love to do... and the world will be better off for it, too. You will have an impact." -Jordan Duke, Marketing & Outreach Specialist

So there you have it. Easier said than done, I know. But it's okay (and necessary) to take a deep breath, pause and reflect, and be present today. Your attention is the best gift you could ever give to someone, and that includes yourself.

I went on to work in entertainment for over a decade and helped start and build companies that all held social responsibility at the core of their business models - the last of which just realized its exit and sold to a larger company. I sit on the board of a non-profit providing arts programming to children across the country, and now I write little articles like this for families as I sit next to my wife and hold my 15-month-old daughter in my arms.

It turns out I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be, I have everything I need, and I'm the happiest I've ever been. I still get to play music professionally every week and tour on occasion - which means my daughter gets the coolest vacations!

Backstage at Easton Corbin 2021

My wife and our daughter with my cousin backstage at Easton Corbin 2021


Cadence's first concert with Aunt Dani

First concert at 6 months old hanging out in the backstage green room