It's a message they hear a lot, but for these high schoolers in South Burlington, the opportunities really are theirs for the taking.
"I do think it's kind of funny because we had homework last night and sports in the afternoon and in the middle of the day we are looking around for our future," said Talia Solomon, a junior.
And they are finding those answers at a career expo for the students, put on by students, that draws dozens of local companies from across the state. It's a chance to talk face-to-face about what a job entails and what steps they need to take to forge a career in that specific field.
"To have 81 companies in one room that you get to stroll through and chat with people, look at careers you may have never considered because you've never been exposed to them," said Nancy Lavarnway of the South Burlington Career Development Center.
Lavarnway helps the students corral the companies. She used to do this work at the college level, but now says it is essential to have these questions answered before high school students make choices for their future.
"It opens up doorways for internships, shadowings, which may lead to a career after college," said Michael Dickhaut, a junior.
The career options run the gamut, from military services to outdoor education to different facets of the medical industry. It was a chance to ask questions about education paths, job opportunities and anything else they want to know.
"I'm interested in bio, so it was interesting to see how bio is in a bunch of different career options," said Sarah Ferry, a junior.
Like Bio-Medic Appliances based in Essex Junction. Many people are not exposed to this line of work until someone in their life needs a prosthetic limb. But in a postwar era, workers there say their products are needed more than ever.
"When I explain what I do, I say I'm part medicine, I'm part artist, I'm part mechanic, and a little bit of a psychologist. We take all if those things and blend it together to do our job," said Sarah Thomas of Bio-Medic Appliances.
With the rising cost of education and an even more competitive job market, these students are feeling the pressure to decide on a career more than ever.
"Students and families now are stepping back and some are offering to take a gap year. They really want to say 'I need to have some general direction,'" Lavarnway said.
The expo is open to all students-- freshmen to seniors. For some it helps them narrow their list, and for others it ignites a passion for a career in something they never knew existed. But teachers, and employers agree it's that passion that going to keep them motivated in a very competitive job market.
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