March 14, 2016

Kid's Career Choices

From a young age we tell kids they can be anything they want to be; that doesn’t do any good if we don’t help them discover what it is they want to be. It is very encouraging, but doesn't help them discover what they truly want to do with their lives. If kids arent exposed to various careers and informed of the educational requirements, they are less likely to make a career choice that suits their unique skill set. In this ever-changing and competitive world, students must plan well and work hard in order for their future dreams to come true. Planning starts with narrowing down options, which is what we need to do for our students. The endless options can be overwhelming for students, as counselors we have to expose students to many possibilities in a way that won't scare them. This is my ideal plan to accomplish just that during the 2016-17 school year. 
I explain to my elementary school students the job descriptions, educational requirements, and qualities needed to excel in 42 popular and realistic careers. I do not teach all 42 at once; I spread the exposure to the career options across the school year in a way that is kid friendly and challenges students to think outside the box and consider various career choices that might be right fit for them. 
This is my ideal plan for the 2016-2017 school year. I'll let you know how it goes!

I start by introducing the "Top 12 Careers of 2015" by hanging these posters as a career of the month activity in an area that the majority of the students walk past daily. I hung three posters in August so that the top profession will be revealed during the last month of the school year. 
This is my office window that faces a main hallway that all students walk through. I love catching students staring at these posters, starting discussions about how long it would take them to get these types of jobs and how much school they would need. My personal favorite is when I hear a knock on the door and a little voice ask, "Mrs. Bell, what's a degree?" I like knowing that my work is making them think and possibly changing their lives. These are the questions that I live for. 

I use the Top 12 Posters as a School Wide Career of the Month Activity. I like when the kids say they wish it was the first of the month already, they are so excited to see how much Career #1 makes and to find out how long they'd have to go to school.

I go on the school news weekly (for the first 10 weeks) and highlight a new skill each week by using the 10 Essential Skills of a Successful Employee Poster.  It's an easy way to hit all of my 1200 students with these skills at once and open their minds to new skills they may want to practice and perfect.
When it is not the first of the month (on the first I highlight one of the top 12 careers), I use the 42 different Career Posters on the school news to highlight a different career each week. I cannot get through them all, but I try to pick a career that I can tie into something going on at school that week. I like to connect it to real life so that the students remember it more and it leaves a lasting impact.  
The first time I went on the news I explained what a college degree was and the different types you can receive. The length of time spent in college to get these degrees and to make the big bucks blew my student's minds.

Just a few of the 42 possible career posters. If a student is really interested in a particular career I like to print a black and white copy for them.

Here are the included careers that you could choose from:
Top 12 Careers of 2015:
1. Physician Assistant
2. Software Engineer
3. Business Development Manager
4. Human Resources Manager
5. Finance Manager
6. Marketing Manager
7. Database Administrator
8. Product Manager
9. Data Scientist
10. Sales manager
11. Solutions Architect
12. Mechanical Engineer
Other Included Careers (in no particular order):
1. Hair Dresser
2. Chef
3. Crossing Guard
4. Doctor
5. Nurse
6. Librarian
7. Commercial Fisherman
8. Fireman
9. Seamstress
10. Bank Teller
11. Dentist
12. Landscape Architect
13. Air Traffic Control
14. Medical Assistant
15. Auto Mechanic
16. Gardener
17. Postal Worker
18. Financial Planner
19. Food Service Managers
20. Detective
21. Fashion Designer
22. Recreational Worker
23. Farmer
24. EMS Worker
25. Police Officer
26. Wildlife Officer
27. Conservation Scientist
28. Airline pilot
29. United States Military
30. Veterinarian
I love using the 42 Character Trait Cards, which outline the character traits and qualities necessary to succeed at each career, during guidance or small group lessons. I usually show these at the same time as the posters so that the students have a thorough understanding of what it takes to make it in each career.

The Career Sorting Interactive Game is perfect for individual students who are inspired by what they saw on the school news or during a lesson and want to learn more. I have them sort the career cards into three piles: this is a good career for me, this may be a good career for me, and this is not a good career for me. I love to play this and give students a little help narrowing down their options. If they get stuck on a career, I pull out the quality card and we talk about what having that career would look like. I challenge students to think of what type of life a person with that career or similar careers would have. It is really fun to see them think about their future and the endless world of possibilities.

I like passing out the Career Decision Worksheets to individuals or in a guidance lesson setting to help students get their ideas out of their head and onto paper.
I reserve the tech lab and utilize the Occupational Outlook Handbook Worksheet (an online search activity) with my fifth graders. I want to send them to middle school knowing that I get them thinking and inspired about their futures.
In this crazy world of endless options, thinking of the future can be overwhelming for a child. By playing the game, along with utilizing the posters and worksheets, from a young age we can get students thinking about what kinds of careers are available, what kinds of careers they may enjoy, and make them aware of the potential educational challenges of qualifying for the career. After these lessons, students can start to develop a clearer picture of what they want to be when they grow up and what steps are required to fulfill those dreams.
Leave me a comment and let me know how you introduce careers to your little ones. I love new ideas and creative ways to implement career development.

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  1. Are you going to make one for 2016? I would love to do this this year.

    1. It is now available as part of this packet on TpT :)

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  3. Where do you find your career information about each job?

    1. The occupational outlook handbook (ooh) is where I gathered all the career information from. I got the top 12 career list from glassdoor and then researched each career on the OOH website.