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Career options are just a click away

New York Teacher
Career Options screenshot

YouTube's "Cool Jobs Show," which features creative careers, is one of the many career resources for students.

Learning about careers has been a practice since teachers organized “show and tell” and Sesame Street introduced us to the people in our neighborhood. But career paths have evolved dramatically since then. Today’s graduates might seek jobs in robotics, artificial intelligence or a field not yet on our radar.

Career and technical education programs have career choices baked into their programs. Middle and high schools may host career days or Junior Achievement speakers, but online resources can also help students discover where their skills and interests might one day lead them.

The possibilities for career exploration in the classroom are numerous. Students can investigate occupations that align with your curriculum, such as environmental science, data analysis or marketing. Or, you could invite virtual visitors to speak to your class about what they do. You could also embark on a long-term project in which students create videos about different careers, interview professionals or publish an online career resource tailored to your school community.

Career quizzes

If your students are just beginning to think about their future occupations, try a career quiz. Look for ones that don’t require a login to grab kids’ data.

My Next Move is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor. Its “Interest Profiler” asks students to rate job tasks on a 5-point scale. Students can then view occupations that match their choices. Each job title shows daily tasks, skills, the education and technology needed, the personality best suited for that career, and a video. Federal statistics, including average salary and likelihood of employment, are also included.

Road Trip Nation offers a collection of videos of how people from all walks of life have found fulfilling careers aligned to their interests. The site’s “road map” tool provides students with a personalized dashboard based on interests they choose with suggested careers, interviews with professionals, and profiles of people who pursued that career. You can view a leader’s career path, education history and personal milestones, and you can even read about the difficulties they encountered.

Video interviews and job profiles

Once students narrow down their preferences, watching videos and interviews with professionals in their potential career can be powerful.

CareerOneStop, another resource from the Department of Labor, hosts videos featuring hundreds of occupations. Search by category to find a specific job and also see the latest labor statistics about that career.

Career Girlswas designed to empower girls in the workforce. See its “role models” section for hundreds of interviews with women in diverse roles.

Careers Out There is a YouTube channel featuring interviews with people from a range of careers. Its “Cool Jobs Show” highlights creative careers.

For younger students

Elementary school students may not be ready to identify their career interests, but you can introduce occupations through class visits and field trips or through engaging YouTube videos like “Jobs I Can Have When I Grow Up,” by Highlights Kids or “Curious Kids” from WGCU/PBS.

Look for online resources that have current job titles and break content down into manageable chunks for the shorter attention spans of younger students.

Sandy Scragg is an instructional technology specialist with more than 15 years of experience in New York City public schools.