10 Ways to Incorporate Career Exploration in Middle School

CTE courses in middle school have the power to expose students to college and career opportunities while equipping them with the transferable skills they need to plan for success in their academic career and the workforce. By introducing careers to students from an early age, students see the relevancy to their learning experiences and begin connecting their academics to career and college opportunities.

Students can begin exploring and shadowing jobs they are interested in from an early age equipping them with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions on a future career. Students, with the help of parents, counselors and teachers, can build their own career pathway through discovering all of the opportunities available to them.

Getting Started

When helping students explore careers, it is important the activities and exploration of industries and careers is student driven. Additionally, ensure career readiness is the focus of the course during career exploration to ensure students understand the expectations of careers that interest them. Try not to discuss college during career exploration with students to allow them to focus on what interests them, what skills they need to develop and the appropriate course to reach their dream career. Allowing students to truly focus on the ins and outs of a career equips them with the knowledge they need to make an educated decision on a career to explore.

Instead of simply showing students different careers, utilize what makes CTE unique and incorporate an interactive or hands-on element to your student career exploration experiences. Ideas for how to incorporate career exploration in middle school to ensure engaging and informative career exploration experiences for students include:  

  1. Host a Career Day
  2. Have students create a career poster
  3. Incorporate career-related field trips to local businesses or companies
  4. Design a career fair
  5. Display career posters
  6. Offer career assessments
  7. Create a career scavenger hunt
  8. Invite guest speakers to share about their careers
  9. Have students interview a friend or family member with a career that interests them
  10. Have students create presentations over their ideal work environment

When possible, take students outside of the classroom to explore careers. Having the opportunity to experience the workforce beyond the classroom will provide students new opportunities and encourage them to get outside of their comfort zone. Some students have had the opportunity to be inside a workplace, but many middle school students do not understand how the workforce works or how they can prepare themselves throughout their academic career.

Keeping the Ball Rolling

Once students have created a list or have a solid understanding of careers they are interested in, take time to discuss what credentials, degrees and experiences might be needed to pursue the identified career. Upon understanding what is needing to be successful within the career, students can begin planning the courses they should take in high school and identify the steps after graduating high school to pursue further learning opportunities within their chosen career path.

Incorporating career exploration into middle school student’s academic experiences offers a multitude of short and long-term benefits in terms of students’ academic performance and career readiness. The key is creating engaging and informative experiences for students to be exposed to opportunities available to them and the expectations of the workforce.  

To learn more about how to incorporate career exploration in middle school visit our website for more information and resources. Throughout the month, we will be highlighting different facets and benefits of career exploration in CTE. Keep an eye on iCEV’s media and communication channels to explore the value of career exploration and various careers within CTE.