It amazes me how early High School students begin thinking about their careers these days. I often get asked questions about which professions or careers are hot, what they pay, what college to attend, and how to get internships… issues that I thought about when I went to High School but I don’t remember having the same intensity that I see now.

Sure, we all know the reasons – the economy, of course; the competition for good college slots and for good jobs; and, I think, the belief that we all share that if only we prepare hard enough good things will come our way. (How else to explain the waiting lists for NY Prep School kindergartens?!?)

But I fear that many young people forget that preparation comes in many forms… think, for example, of the baseball player during Spring training who does more than shag flies, chase grounders and practice his swing in the batting cage. He also makes sure he eats right, and lifts weights, and jogs, and stretches.

So, what does this have to do with High School students? I’ll tell you – Yes, focus on the SAT’s and on getting good grades and on extracurriculars and internships. But, also do the training exercises that don’t seem so apparent but are equally important! Here are my 5 Training Steps for the Aspiring Young Job Holder:

Read – newspapers; books; news magazines. Learn what’s going on in the world so that you are aware of others’ lives and can hold your own in conversations.

Write – don’t shy away from writing courses in school. Spend time preparing drafts and getting feedback. Writing well will set you apart from others.

Watch your texts and e-mails – you must spellcheck and you must proof. No more correctly spelled typo’s “form” you (vs. “from” you).

Mix it up with adults – listen and talk. These are skills that will improve if you jump in and talk to others.

Pay attention to your nonverbals – watch your posture, your grooming, the clarity of your speech (i.e., no mumbling and slow down)… make a good impression on others and you make it easier for them to help you learn, network, get references and find a job!

OK, so you may not be able to hit a curveball. But I’m making a pitch here to get you to focus on the little things, so that you can knock your career goals out of the park!