As a senior in high school, you’re bound to be asked “what do you want to be or do when you grow up?” according to senior Tad B. ’20. He wanted to have more information in order to better answer this question, so he created The Professional Playbook, a website and book to help high school students dive deeper into various professions.
The Professional Playbook aims to help high school students discover how their passion might translate into a professional career. “The goal is to help high school students to lay the foundations for the career of their dreams by helping them understand the journeys of those who have already successfully traveled a similar trajectory,” according to the website professionalplaybook.net.
At the beginning of his junior year, Tad had a simple idea that he felt would benefit his community, and took it one step at a time to make it a reality. He started by asking professionals he knew to answer a few questions, then started cold-calling and writing experts in fields he wanted to know more about. He made hundreds of original inquiries and the first edition of the book grew to contain 19 sections (such as consulting, entertainment, engineering, and medical) and interviews from more than 80 experts. Tad self-published the book and website at the beginning of his senior year, but he is still taking new inquires through the website. He has also reached a verbal agreement with a publisher who wants to expand the audience reach to include college students.
In addition to learning from each professional, Tad learned just as much through the project itself: he honed his interview stills, he increased his Photoshop and graphic design abilities, he learned about working with a publisher and website designer, he crafted a project pitch, and he refined personal letters. As editor of the school newspaper, The Hawk Talk, he had basic page layout skills that he grew to more advanced skills. He’s grateful to everyone who participated and helped along the way, including the graphic designer who donated his time to create the book cover design because he believes in the project.
Though every field is unique, Tad says there are common take-aways. “Everyone, regardless of field, makes a point to say you have to write and communicate well—whether it’s getting resources for a project or leading a team,” says Tad. Other common advice included: it’s OK to not know what you want to do, encouraging students to explore their interests, the value of internships, and staying tech-savvy.
Tad is interested in economics and data science, but he still plans to “dabble” in various fields as he heads to college in the fall.
Thanks, Tad, for sharing your passion with the community! Current high school students can find a copy of The Professional Playbook in BASIS Independent McLean’s Student Resource Center (which Tad also founded) in the Reading Room, and anyone can access at professionalplaybook.net to read or to contribute content about their experiences.