Helping Students Find the Right Career

Catching butterflies. Creating elaborate illustrations. Building a pirate/sea monster/dog park/boat out of Legos. Inventing and organizing a new game.

The every day play of children in our lives will one day translate to their careers.

Biologist, architect, construction foreman, designer. It’s hard to see it sometimes. But knowing that the talents and creativity of many kids in your family could turn into so many possibilities is exciting.

In Pennsylvania, there are multiple initiatives to help educate and engage students statewide. We’re outlining some details, as well as how you can help!

PA Programs

The Pennsylvania Career Education and Work Standards is a program integrated into K-12 schools to improve the following:

  • Career awareness and preparation
  • Career acquisition (getting a job)
  • Career retention and advancement
  • Entrepreneurship

This program is funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Bureau of Career and Technical Education.

It’s aimed at several stakeholders: students, parents, educators, businesses, postsecondary educational institutes, and the community at large. Linking these goals into other initiatives is a key part of educating for the future, and school districts are regularly reviewing current practices and needs to achieve these standards.

The program offers the following ideas for implementation:

  • Tie career development with character education
  • Link directly to postsecondary training in the professional world, from job shadowing to internships to career days to classroom speakers to field trips.
  • Integrate career development software
  • Emphasize the importance of lifelong learning and workplace skills
  • Build curriculum that encourages entrepreneurial thinking
  • Develop a career-based graduation project
  • Establish career-oriented mentoring programs

Since 2017, additional emphasis on career preparation in PA schools has come through a grant program. Team Pennsylvania was awarded a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry to fund career readiness projects in schools and school districts as part of K-12 school counseling and career service plans. In 41 school districts across the state, grant funding was received for this school year as well. Schools with grant funding work with their local Workforce Development Boards with an emphasis on regional market trends. Initiatives funded by this grant program include:

  • Conducting work-based learning experiences such as field trips and job shadowing
  • Providing online programs assisting students with career awareness and exploration
  • Facilitating professional development for educators
  • Hosting career fairs, guest speakers, and mock interview programs
  • Establishing, scaling, or sustaining career pathways
  • Educating and engaging parents and guardians about high-demand industries in the area.

Together, these programs are making a difference in our kids’ futures.

But we all know parents, family members, and friends need to partner with kids today to help them find the right job to support themselves and their families tomorrow.

What Friends and Family Can Do

While discussing jobs and possible skills to learn, it’s good to remind students that learning these specialties will help them make a paycheck, which in turn will pay for expenses and future goals: traveling, further education, a home to renovate, and so on. It’s hard for kids to picture future expenses and passions, but it’s good to discuss it nonetheless.

You can help them along this journey:

  • Read about different careers (at all ages!) If they discuss an interest or have questions, look up details online to find out more.
  • Talk to people who do different types of jobs, and you can both learn about how they became qualified and what they get to do every day.
  • Use your network – touch base with professionals you know to meet with your student or possibly job shadow.
  • Work through self-assessments with the student.

And some things to keep in mind as well: Keep your opinions to yourself and be encouraging. Maybe you can’t see them succeeding in a certain career line, but keep the conversation going because it will help them continue to develop ideas and plans. Also, make sure they’re being safe. If you use social media to contact professionals, do so yourself, so the student isn’t at the mercy of someone they don’t know reaching out to them. And attend any meetings with the student.

Career discussions and planning are part of a healthy and stable financial life for your family and close friends. Students need help to find the right career for their future. If you’re looking for more ways to make sure you’re on the right track financially, check out our Smart Start Financial Literacy  ebook  series (free!) for guidance. And if you have questions about your finances at any time, you can easily get in touch with us.