Kids get excited about discussing future plans. Talking about what they want to be is very motivating and helps students see real world connections. If you’re like me, there are so many career development resources available, it can be overwhelming. I want to engage students in career development activities that are fun, interactive, and purposeful.
How do I know what to teach? What do my students need? Where do I start?
A great place to begin is giving your students a needs assessment. Either through a conversation, worksheet, or online assessment, you can hear students’ perceptions about their career development needs. I am in a middle school, so I ask questions about high school class selection, graduation requirements, post-secondary plans, and career options to identify what students feel they need the most help with.
Future planning is a high-interest category for my students every year.
Technology Tools for Students
Once you have an idea of what students need, look for interactive ways to engage students in learning about careers. There are some great online tools available for K-12 career development.
Smart Futures is a free resource targeted for high school and beyond and can be accessed by requesting a code for students to use. Some free resources that do not require student log in are Education Planner, College and Career Life Planning, the Department of Labor K-12, and O-net’s My Next Move. These sites provide interactive assessments, games, and activities to promote career development.
Career Cruising, Naviance, and Kuder provide programs for elementary through high school and beyond, but require purchase. My state pays for Kuder for every student in a public school. Check with people at the district level to find out if this is an option for you.
Career Development Resources for Counselors
Classroom and small group activities can also enhance your career development program. There are free resources available for counselors. The College Board Professionals Page has a very thorough list of resources for all levels. Several states have developed college and career readiness curriculums that are available online. Check your state education website.
College and Career EXPO
After students have explored careers, a hands-on experience is a great way to help students see real-world examples. There are many ways to facilitate this using guest speakers, lunch bunch presentations, or a school-wide event such as a career fair. Whatever you decide to do, planning is essential in hosting any of these events.