Comprehensive Career Guidance System
Graduating with a starting point and a plan
As a student progresses through school, he or she moves closer to the important goal of high school graduation. At the same time, that student moves closer to the day when financial independence will become a reality. Today’s world offers many choices to all students regarding career options; however, a student unaware of the effects of these choices on his or her overall lifestyle can face feelings of inadequacy, disappointment and failure. The more information a student is presented with in an orderly fashion at all stages of growth, the more likely that student will make career choices that will lead to meaningful and productive lifestyle.
What are some best practices at each level?
Comprehensive career development is usually implemented in ways that are developmentally appropriate and thus will vary from level to level. Suggested methods of delivery at each level are:
Elementary: (awareness level)
Career development at the elementary level includes helping students understand the role of work, one’s own uniqueness, and basic knowledge about different occupations.
The classroom teacher, school counselor and administrators work together to plan how career development activities and career education can be infused into the ongoing educational program. This is an opportune time to introduce the concept of school as work and students as workers. Elementary students become aware of community workers. Parents or other class visitors can expand the child’s understanding of the world of work. Visits to community sites as well as local businesses broaden the child’s perspective of work.
Middle School: (exploration level)
The emphasis at the middle level is on the refinement of knowledge and awareness to the actual experience of simulated work tasks. It is a time to discover abilities and interests and to formulate career and educational plans. A true middle level structure provides many opportunities to integrate career development. Team teaching allows a group of teachers to work together in infusing career information into the regular educational program. The school counselor may serve as a resource for the team or to provide special instruction when needed. Libraries may have special middle-level career information software for student use. As in the elementary, many career development activities can be integrated into existing classroom curriculum, thus bringing relevance to academics. Visits to businesses can bring reality of the world of work to the students and emphasize the importance of strong academic and skill development. Whatever the chosen strategy, the middle years should be a time of expansion of opportunities through exploration activities.
High School: (preparation level)
The greatest challenge and the greatest need for career development programs occur at the high school level. The challenge is finding time in the busy student schedule to implement career development activities in groups. The need is that graduation plans dictate certain educational selections that require guided reflection and decision-making. Teachers may not only promote careers relevant to their discipline, but also incorporate career development activities of general value, e.g., researching a career in an English class. Sometimes teachers, in collaboration with school counselors, actually provide mini-units within classes. Career software, available on all campuses, can help to sort the voluminous amount of educational, occupational, and career information available. Job shadowing and real work experience are often parts of the experiential career development process. Employability skills, job finding, and job keeping skills are all part of the competencies which students must master as they consider their future role in the world of work. Resume writing, interviewing skills analysis, team problem solving are but a few of the abilities that young people need to take to the workplace. Job shadows and industry visits can further connect the school to future employment. High schools must accept responsibility for assuring that every student has the opportunity to be prepared to achieve economic success.*
*Program Guide: Planning to Meet Career Development Needs; National Occupational Information Coordinating Committee; 2nd Edition; 1995.
Career Development Websites & Documents
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