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What's In Your Future? Help High School Students Focus on a Career Ladder

written by: Kellie Hayden • edited by: Noreen Gunnell • updated: 3/5/2013

High school students should begin thinking about where they are going to live and what they are going to do after graduation, whether it is college or a job. Teachers can aid in this process by showing them how to make a career ladder and assisting them in their career research.

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    Begin the lesson by having your students conduct research online. The computer lab will need to be booked for two to four days. There are many government websites that are full of great information to help students in their quest to plan for their future.

    Graduation Caps As students move through their high school years they are always asked "What do you want to do when you grow up?" In the past, they may have given the pat answer of a doctor, veterinarian or professional football player. Now, they have some high school classes under their belt and can see their strengths and weaknesses.

    It should become obvious to some that the years of college preparation to become a doctor or veterinarian is not for them. Or, maybe they now see that they do not have the talent or skills to make it to the professional league.

    Students need to become serious about what they do want to do when they exit high school. They need to decide how many years they want to attend college and pay for it before they step into the workforce. However, college may not be the path for some students. These students will need some training to make more than minimum wage. So, this lesson should be somewhat interesting and maybe even exciting.

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    Begin with a Career Interest Inventory

    This activity will help students to understand their possible career paths through their likes and dislikes. High school students will soon be entering the work force, military, training programs, or college to train for their future. These activities will help them to see possible avenues for their interests and strengths.

    Free Career Interest Inventories

    There are many free career inventories online. Some students have a direction for a career path and others have no idea. It is always interesting to see what an inventory’s results are so that students can have some guidance on career choices.

    The following two are free to try:

    • The Similar Minds website asks students about information about their personality to suggest possible careers. Students do not need to give out an email address to receive the results. There are 30 questions that take around 10-15 minutes to answer. If students answer honestly, some good possible careers will come with the results of the student's personality analysis.
    • The CareerTech Career and Academic Connections website has the Career Cluster Inventory. The inventory will need to be downloaded and printed. The PDF has clear directions. Once the students complete the worksheet, they can go back to the website to learn more about the career clusters in which they showed an interest.
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    Build Your Own Career Ladder

    After students have at least one career choice from the career interest inventory that they complete, they need to look at the career ladders at the Career One Stop website which is sponsored by is sponsored by the U. S. Department of Labor. The Employment and Training Administration has so many resources for students planning their futures.

    One option for this lesson is for students to build their own career ladder. Students should go to the Careeronestop.org website and view the sample career ladders that interest them. There are specific directions of how to do this. Students will need to follow the directions and print off their career ladder in the end.

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    Research One Job

    Another option for this lesson is for students to choose one or two careers to research. Students could include the following information:

    • Tasks
    • Knowledge needed
    • Skills and abilities necessary
    • Work activities
    • Work environment
    • Areas where the jobs can be found
    • Education needed
    • Work styles and values
    • Related occupations
    • Wages and employment trends

    Students will need to present their information in either a PowerPoint Presentation or poster to share with the class. All sources should be cited on a bibliography, works cited or reference page.

    This lesson on career ladders will help students to figure out their futures. Students will be able to eliminate career paths and hopefully be able to find the perfect future profession.

References

  • Online Career Exploration Resources, http://www.madison.k12.ky.us/district/projects/WebQuest/career/resource.htm#CAREER%20INTEREST%20INVENTORIES:
  • Career Ladder Project, http://www.careerladdersproject.org/
  • Sample Career Ladders/Lattices, http://www.careeronestop.org/CompetencyModel/CareerPathway/CPWReviewSamplePaths.aspx\
  • Competency Model Clearinghouse of References, http://www.careeronestop.org/CompetencyModel/search.aspx?N=0
  • Photo of graduation caps by shiladsen under CC BY 2.0 via Flickr