Eleven Ways to Explore Career Development with Students

Idaho Department of Labor Student photo

Students become career ready with hands-one learning experiences

November may have been “National Career Awareness Month,” but every month is career development month for  Idaho teachers  who integrate  career development daily :

Hosting Virtual Field Trips. Using innovative technologies, Stephani Childress, regional coordinator with Advanced Opportunities in Post Falls engages students in virtual field trips to colleges and universities. Students come to class before school starts, connect online and learn about colleges and post-secondary schools across the country.

Creating a Continuous “Go On” Culture. Cory Fortin and Parma High School are creating a continuous “go on” culture. Morning announcements are leveraged by congratulating students when they are accepted to a college or post-secondary training institution. Teachers dress in college attire, decorate classroom doors based on their alma-mater and students vote for their favorite. Extra credit is earned for dressing in interview clothing on test day. Every class must do a career development activity of their choice. Even the band teacher gets into the act and brings in professional musicians.

Assigning Students to Create Vision Boards. Mountain Home Junior High school counselor Jennifer Zaike has eighth grade students create vision boards which they share with their peers. Students research a career and paste pictures of what they want to be on their boards and that answer questions like: What are the requirements? Does my chosen career include college? Will it involve on-the-job training or a technical program?

Showing Students What School Activities are Worth. Sugar Salem High School counselor Fred Woolley encourages students to create a raise.me account. Raise.me is a website where students enter activities and achievements and receive micro scholarships from over 60 colleges and universities nationwide. Students enter in AP test scores, club memberships and community service among other subjects and see their scholarship amount grow.

Get Students Engaged in School. As a school, Shoshone High requires all students to complete 60 hours of job shadowing with a local business. Students must also attend 40 hours of school games, plays, concerts, pep rallies or other activities and complete 40 hours of community service before they graduate. Instructors help students identify a business, provide a set of questions to ask during the initial phone call, and if necessary, coach them through the conversation.

Hosting Career Fairs. Jenni Kimball, a counselor at Columbia High in Nampa, worked with other teachers to plan the school’s first career fair last year. Kimball and staff reached out to local businesses and agencies, such as the Idaho Department of Labor, to host career workshops in the morning  and participate in an open fair in the afternoon.

Creating Hands-on Learning Experiences for Students. Identifying a need for hands-on training and learning, Canyon Springs’ Heather Ramos worked with a local chef to create a culinary arts program. After earning a Professional Technical Education certification to teach culinary arts, the chef and students whipped up a barbecue where parents were invited to learn more about post-secondary education opportunities. The program is in its first year.

Hosting a FAFSA Night. Filling out the FAFSA form can be a barrier to post-secondary education for some students. Hosting an evening with enough people who know how to fill out the form demystifies the process for parents and helps students get started on their application. A potluck dinner and child care may help increase attendance.

Creating a Group of Parent Volunteers. Lori Lodge, formerly at Timberline in the Boise School District had the responsibility of working with 700 students. She reached out to parents to see if they would be interested in volunteering in her career lab. As parents showed an interest, she trained them on the Idaho Career Information System, FAFSA, college applications and placement tests so they felt comfortable helping students. Parents signed up for a time to volunteer in the lab and sat down one-on-one with students to answer questions and mentor. As a result, students gained more personal attention and assistance and parents felt more involved.

Creating a Family Career Tree. Some schools ask students to use a family tree template and create a career tree instead. Students are encouraged to interview family members, ask questions about their career choices and wrap up their career tree with a vision of what they want to be.

Planning for the Future with CIS. Planning for the future can be a tough challenge. Between deciding on a career that fits your skill sets and interests, understanding the process of preparing and applying to higher education and figuring out how to budget for the future, things get complicated. The Idaho Department of Labor’s Career Information System offers comprehensive career information, resources and services to help students make successful career and education decisions. Students, parents and educators can use CIS to help Idahoans prepare for their future.

— The information contained in this article was gathered during a series of panel discussions held throughout the state. The discussions were sponsored by the Office of the State Board of Education and organized by Jordyn Neerdahls, a CIS marketing services coordinator with the Idaho Department of Labor.