Career Exploration Activities for Students

Use career exploration activities to help your students develop career skills and find a college major that will benefit them.

Depending on a kid’s age, the answer to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” may be silly — “A cartoon character!” — or serious — “A doctor.” What matters is that kids are thinking about their future careers from a young age, and honing their ideas as they mature. By the time they graduate high school, students will be much likelier to succeed in professionally if they’ve been given ample opportunities for career exploration.

What is career exploration?

Career exploration has become an important topic as high school students continue to attend university or enter the workforce immediately after graduation. Career exploration allows for high school students to understand what their likes and dislikes are and apply that knowledge when choosing their future majors or occupations.

According to Gallup, just 22 percent of the world’s billions of workers consider themselves “engaged” in their jobs. That translates to a lot of people who are very unhappy at work. At Naviance, we know that career exploration can help mitigate some of the issues holding workers back from happiness in their careers. A process of uncovering preferences, career exploration can set current and future generations on a course for success and fulfillment and help ensure that they avoid ending up in jobs that make them miserable.

Career exploration also makes it easier for kids to meet the college and career readiness standards that their school has put into place to further boost their chances of finding a meaningful job that they love.

Career Exploration Activities 

By the time kids are in high school, they already have some understanding of what they want to do with their lives. Your students may have even completed a career assessment at this point, in order to begin the process of narrowing down their options. 

Whether you’ve already had your students complete a career assessment, or you’re just learning about this topic, career exploration activities are a wonderful way to help your high school students begin pondering their professional futures. Here are three activities to get you started:

1) Hidden Occupation
Ask your students to discover five “hidden” jobs each. Obvious jobs such as teacher, doctor, chef, or C.E.O. don’t count. Ask your students to dig deeper, and discover roles like HR specialist, ultrasound technician, food stylist, or content marketing strategist. Then ask them to present their findings to the class.

2) Apprentice for a Day
This one involves imagination and critical thinking. Ask your students to imagine what it would be like if they could choose to be an apprentice in any job for one day. Have them talk about what jobs they would pick, and explain why. 

3) Career Path
To underscore the power of visualizing goals, ask your students to draw what sort of path they believe they would need to take in order to obtain their dream job.

These activities can reveal important insights as students build their career readiness skills and can set them up with realistic expectations for the future.

What are career exploration tools? 

Student career planning can be overwhelming for teachers, administrators, and students alike. But you don’t have to navigate the steps alone. 

A wide range of career exploration tools are available to support your classroom in keeping track of progress and goals, including Naviance’s Career Readiness feature. We know that the college and career readiness process has a lot of moving parts — and we’re here to help your classroom thrive.

Topics Career Readiness

College & Career Readiness

Prepare students for college, career, and life with a research-backed readiness framework and comprehensive toolset. Create connections between their strengths and interests to success after high school.

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