Career Awareness Activities for High School

Instructor: Ruth Solomon
Many opportunities exist for teachers to introduce a wide variety of career choices to their students. We will look at some of the activities that you can plan at your school, as well as ones that you can set up away from the school.

Career Awareness

It is a question that we have all had to answer at one point in time or another. What do you want to be when you grow up? This question begins when we are in elementary school when we probably do not have a sound answer to the question. By the time we got to high school, we had to start taking that question much more seriously.

You obviously chose to be a teacher. Now, it is your responsibility to help your students begin to form their solid answers to that question. Some of your students may already know for sure what they want to do while others may not have even thought about the possible careers that exist for them. It is important therefore, to introduce as many different career options as possible to your students. Active ways of introducing careers are usually the most effective, in particular for high school students.

Activities at the School

One activity can either be done just in your class, in your department, or with the rest of the school. Have a career week for the students. There are any number of ways to plan a career week. Each day should have some type of activity that introduces various careers to students. This can include students dressing up for the career of their choice, bringing in job recruiters or human resources representatives from various types of companies, and a career fair in the commons area where students can interact with employees in different fields.

A school wide career week introduces students to many careers.
Picture of high school students at a career expo at school

If your school is not going to have a school-wide career week or day, then you can still introduce careers to your students by inviting speakers from various careers into your classroom. To prepare for the speakers, have the students come up with questions ahead of time that they want the speaker to answer in regards to their careers. You can also give your students short quizzes about what the speakers discussed. This will help ensure that your students are actually listening.

A fun thing that students can do that will introduce them to careers and possibly pique their interests in some careers, is to have them complete a career matching questionnaire or survey. This can be done on paper or you can take your students to the computer lab for them to complete a questionnaire or survey on online. They will input information about what they like and do not like, and their strengths and weaknesses. Some career surveys even have tests included in them that will assess various skills to match students to a career.

Students can write or illustrate the steps in their career path.
Career path illustration

Another interactive way to introduce careers to students is to have them select a career of interest from a list that you create. They could also pick a career that is not on the list to add more variety. Have your students create a career path from their current grade to the point when they enter the career. A career path will help them to see what steps are necessary in order to enter their career field of choice. They need to include all required schooling, training, internships, etc.

Activities Away from the School

If your students are like most high school students, then they will be more than ready to have an excuse to be away from school for a day. Check with local companies to see if your students can shadow employees for a day. The great part about this activity is that it is allows the students to see what it is like to work in the career field in which they are interested by following someone as they are working in the field. It will also likely expose them to different types of professions within a field. For instance, you may have a student that wants to be a nurse. Upon shadowing for a day, they may discover that it is not quite what they want to do. The good thing is that being in a doctor's office or hospital allows them to see other healthcare professionals such as doctors, medical records clerks, medical transporters, and medical transcriptionists. Many other types of businesses will offer a variety of professions as well such as courthouses and manufacturing plants.

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