Carol Topp spoke about Career Exploration for High School Students at the Cincinnati Homeschool Convention. I personally found her to be an energetic speaker, and her enthusiasm was contagious. I attended two of her sessions and found myself feeling uplifted, encouraged and energized!
Finding a career is not like shooting an arrow into a bullseye. Life isn’t like that. It’s a process of exploration. You don’t need to decide what you’re going to be by age 17; you just need to decide the next step. Kids feel like God’s will is one thing or the other; however, the person is more important than the job. She reminded us that –
GOD BLESSES PEOPLE, NOT PATHS.
She used the example of Joseph in the Bible, who had many careers – shepherd, slave, accountant for Potiphar, prisoner, manager of prisoners, and then after interpreting Pharaoh’s troubling dreams, he became 2nd in command in the country! All of the past jobs helped Joseph in his next job. Every job or opportunity gives the person more information to go into the next job. Hence, Career Exploration is a Process.
She recommended this timeframe in college –
8th/9th grade: get a general idea. Do you like to work with people? numbers? etc.
Repeat process in jr. year – help pick major, get idea for the “next step”.
Women – think about what you might want to do when you have children. Will your career fit your kids?
Kids should make a long list of careers and take several tests. Do you see the same things popping up again and again? Brainstorm, but don’t eliminate. Research the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov) Consider these questions –
- What does it take to be a ____?
- What do they make?
- What kind of college is needed?
Also consider, Employment or Self-Employment? Not all careers lead to self-employment (example: nurse)
Give teens lots of experience. Is your teen interested in the medical field? Have them work in a retirement home. Give teens opportunities to interview with people and job shadow. After a job shadowing experience, ask – What do you like about it? What don’t you like about it? Look at college catalogs – if your teen finds certain classes interesting, such as classes all in one subject, that might be what they want to do for their major.
- High school plan: what are your graduation requirements? Make high school plan of credits needed for graduation based upon where they are going and what is needed. (example: don’t bother with Physics if the student will be obtaining a Music degree)
- College entrance requirements?
- Find answers at Collegeboard.org
- Visit College Fairs to help select a college
- Look at online reviews of colleges – collegedirt.com (but read with a grain of salt)
- Go for a college visit. Read the student newspaper. Eat in the cafeteria. Stay overnight in the dorm, if able. The dorm will have more influence than the professors!
She recommended the book What Do I Do with a Degree in English?
Job Shadowing – put the word out that your interested in job shadowing for a particular field. Send email to church, homeschool network. Use your connections. Most people WANT to talk about themselves and encourage others into that career. Some organizations have job shadowing days. Dayton Airforce Base offers this – from dental hygienist to bomb disposal expert. Boy Scouts Explorers also does career exploration, and this opportunity is also available for girls.
Here is a link to her handout with good info and links: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_mIAvc8Q0JMMFktNW5hcjhPdVE/view?usp=sharing