Career Awareness Activities for Middle School Students

Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has a master's degree in cancer biology and has taught high school and college biology.

This lesson is going to present some activities that can be utilized by middle school teachers to make students aware of various careers that they can enter after completing school. We will look at in and out of classroom activities.

Careers

You remember very clearly the day that you decided to become a teacher. This decision may have come very easily for you or it may have taken some time to come into focus. Your first day in your teaching career may have helped solidify your decision or may have made you question it. There was most likely that one day that made you question your decision no more. It was the day that something really clicked for a student and they were proud to have learned something new. They learned it from you.

Well, now it is time for you to make that magic happen again. This time though, that connection for the students will be about their careers. You have been charged with the task of making your middle school students aware of different careers. How on earth do you do that? After all, the career you know about is teaching. However, there are some activities that you can do with your students in order to help them learn more about the plethora of careers that exist.

Career Awareness Activities

In Classroom Activities

If there is one thing that you have learned while being a middle school teacher, it is that students like to talk to each other. Your first activity will use that to your advantage. Have each of your students pick a career from a list that you provide. Make sure each career is only picked one time. Set up a couple of days in the computer lab for your students to research their careers. They should put the information in a presentation that they will present to the class. Depending on the size of your class, this activity may introduce many careers to your students.

Students can dress up in typical clothes for their careers
Picture of a firefighter

To make this even more interesting and enjoyable for the students, have them dress up on the day of the presentation as if they were working in that career. This will not only help to introduce careers to your students, but it will also help the other students in the school that you don't have as students. They are inevitably going to ask each other why they are dressed the way they are. That prompt will then encourage them to explain their careers again.

While middle school students do like to talk, they will also listen from time to time. They probably hear you talk very often, so give your voice a break. Invite some speakers to your classroom to discuss their careers. To help ensure that your students are listening, you can give them some questions to answer after the speaker finishes or give them a quiz on a few of the highlights of the speaker's presentation. One thing that some teachers like to do is let students know ahead of time that they can avoid a quiz by asking the speaker some logical questions. They will have to listen in order to ask these questions.

Another option to introduce careers to students is to have them research their desired career paths. This will help them to gain an understanding of what is required in order to enter the careers that they find interesting. For students that have no clue what careers they are interested in, you can provide a list of possible careers and have them choose 2 to 3 of them that might be a possibility.

Students can create the steps to their career by doing a career path
Career steps illustration

To extend this particular activity a little further, you can have the students create a timeline for themselves through the career path. The timeline should start from the grade they are in and go through high school, any required post-secondary education, entry into the career and end at 5 years into the career. Have them add in expected costs and salaries. This will not only introduce the career, but get them to start planning for it as well.

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