Finding the right career path is an integral part of any person’s self-identification, and that’s why early career exploration activities are so important for kids. Such activities can begin in elementary school and continue up through high school.
That may seem early, but here are a few reasons why career exploration activities are important:
- Career activities help young students to set career goals, so that they can clearly define their “When I grow up” plans and move a childhood fantasy closer to reality.
- Career exploration improves academic performance.
- Career readiness activities improve the attitudes of students towards their career opportunities.
- Career exploration gives students a clearer understanding of how they fit into the working world.
In this article, we will discuss fun career activities for middle school students, high school students, and elementary school students. We’ve divided each grade level into its own category so you can understand the progression more clearly. A lot of these will be described as activities led by a teacher, but it could be any responsible adult — a parent, coach, community leader, camp counselor, etc.
Career Exploration Activities for Elementary Students
Career exploration games open up a new world of ideas for young kids to consider. Such activities help children understand from an early age that choosing a career can greatly affect their future lives. Here are some ideas of career exploration for kids both inside and outside an elementary school classroom:
- Career day activities for elementary students - On career days, teachers invite guests from various fields to share their experiences with the students. They typically ask parents or community members to volunteer. Career day activities can be in form of presentations in front of class, but it is also possible to make them more interactive. For example, teachers can set up stations throughout the school where the presenters can demonstrate their daily activities and the students rotate through those stations.
- Career posters activity - Teachers or parents ask the kids to brainstorm ideas of interesting jobs and make a list. Then they encourage the kids to think about a job that they would enjoy most and why and ask them to create colorful posters about a preferred career. In the end, the kids can hang the posters in the classroom or in their bedrooms.
- Career-related field trips - Teachers or parents organize trips to museums, airports, TV studios, police or fire stations, and other local businesses so that the kids get a behind the scenes look at their work.
Middle School Career Exploration Activities
- ABC careers activity - During this activity, a teacher or leader asks the students to come up with careers and skills that start with each alphabet letter. After that, they ask them to mark the skills that they believe they possess. Then the kids should explain the importance of their chosen skills.
- Job description adjectives - Kids write down a couple of adjectives describing their dream jobs on stickers and then stick those adjectives to their clothes. After that, the kids walk around the room and look for people with similar adjectives, which they then discuss while working in pairs.
- Career path activity - Teachers discuss with their students different ways to get a dream job after high school. For example, they encourage the children to research the list of academic courses they should take and how much time they will need for that. It would also be useful to list the skills that are required for this job.
- Youth job fair trip - A teacher plans a class trip to a career fair where their students can talk to potential employers.
- Career terminology activity - Discuss different career-related terms with the kids. There are many ways to do that. For example, you can give the list of terms to the kids and ask them to try to define those terms themselves. Then they can work in groups and prepare a crossword puzzle with terms and their definitions.
- CV writing - Some teachers train their students to write their CVs in order to be prepared for future employment. As a result, the students get to know how to lay out their CVs in a concise and readable manner as well as learn different tips and tricks that attract the employer’s attention. It also makes sense for older students to make digital portfolios of their work experience, whether that be building their own website or blog or setting up an account on Goodwall, or even LinkedIn.
- Job interview role play activity - Working in pairs, kids train to interview each other and answer the tricky questions that might come up in a job interview. This gets them thinking about questions that pertain to different careers.
- Career camp - Middle school students now have a unique opportunity to attend summer enrichment camps where they can combine many of their interests. For example there are Xploration Residential and Xploration Day programs that allow students to study topics like digital art, cooking, fashion, coding, and robotics all in the same summer camp. These programs and others like them are offered throughout the Philadelphia area at Julian Krinsky Camps & Programs.
Career Exploration Activities for High School Students
Many high school students still don’t know what they want to do, and that’s perfectly fine. Their age already allows them to undertake some part-time jobs that may help them define what they like and set their goals more clearly.
Besides, career planning activities for high school students may help students make up their minds and choose their dream job before they enter a college.
- Joining various groups and communities - By participating in groups that involve community service and leadership opportunities, such as student organizations or honor societies, students can deepen their work-related skills.
- Attending a career camp - Summer enrichment camps aren’t just for middle schoolers. JKCP offers a wide range of summer enrichment programs for high school students as well. Students can choose one morning course and one afternoon course from 30+ classes across various subjects, such as arts, sciences, fashion, fitness, engineering, and much more. There is also an internship program that places the students within their field of choice, with a mentor who gives a hands-on, three-week look at what they do. Depending on the chosen field, they will spend three to six fascinating weeks working in an office, lab, studio, museum, sports venue, or hospital. They can also focus on athletics or emerging mediums like esports.
- Volunteering - Organizations such as religious institutions, local nonprofits, and government agencies are always open to volunteers that can fill a variety of roles. High school students can also volunteer abroad, in order to expand their horizons. Later they can include all of these activities in their resumes or college applications.
As you see, there is a wide variety of career exploration activities for all grades, from elementary school to high school. These activities are mostly initiated by school teachers, but as a parent you can also contribute to how your kids approach learning about different careers.
One of the best options is to suggest that your children participate in JKCP career camps or other enrichment programs that will bring them one step closer to their dream job. Check out all we have to offer in the Philadelphia area on the programs page or reach out and inquire yourself. Good luck helping your kid explore his or her future!