One of the services that we provide through True North Academic Advising is career and life coaching. Kids often have a big idea of what they want in life but don’t have the experience get them there in an expedient and cost-effective way.
Why does Career Exploration matter to high school students?
Career Exploration, as Cheri explains:
Increases students awareness of career options
Helps students see how they fit into the working world
Encourages students to plan high school courses based on their future goals
Improves academic performances
Saves time and money by pursuing a defined goal
Introduces students to employment skills valued by all employers
The Career Exploration and preparation course guide consists of 2 parts.
Career Exploration & Prep Course Part 1:
This section is designed to allow the student to get to know themselves better and gain a clearer understanding of their vocational interests. This section also helps the student confirm their interests through various activities.
Part 1 Overview – Career Exploration: Choosing a Best Fit
Keys to your future
Your Vocational Profiles
Part 1 is designed to be used in homeschools or co-op settings. Cheri includes many web-links and resources right at the beginning of the guide to get you started on the road to understanding your student. Some examples include Learning Styles, Motivation Triggers, Grit Scales, Business Essentials, to name a few.
Career Exploration & Prep Course Part 2:
In part 2, students are guided through a capstone project in their career area of interest. This section will allow students to define and hone skills relevant to the career areas that they have selected in Section 1.
The Guide consists of reading, assignments, and projects. Students should plan on 3-4 hours per week to complete the lessons, reading, and longer-term projects. Students should prepare to partner with their parents or a cohort, such as our Orienteering course will provide, to make the most of this course.
So what do I love about this program?
I love how this program starts off right by encouraging students to seek and find a team of mature mentors that they can learn and grow from. It is an excellent exercise in seeking out Godly leaders who can speak into their lives.
Additionally, there is a fantastic Bible Study right out of the shoot that sets up the Biblical basis for work. Conscientious, hard workers are in high demand these days. Cheri guides the kids through a Bible study on this and lays such an excellent foundation for the joy, responsibility, and God-given inspiration for work. Directly following, there is a study on family and cultural expectations. This facet is an oft-overlooked section of most career exploration programs. As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I love the fact that students look at the careers and vocations that are part of their family. We are often more influenced by family members and legacies than we realize.
A Cost of Living Project is also included. An excellent project that every high schooler should complete before their graduation from high school!
All of this before the student begins a Vocational Profile, which includes Personality Inventories, Occupational Profiles and Evaluation, Credentialing Evaluation, and Job Shadowing. This Vocational Profile is a thorough and detailed overview of career exploration for each student based on their personality and interests.
Part II will focus on students building their skills and showcasing them in a way that will take them into the beginning stages of developing their professionalism.
The Capstone project includes critical thinking, public speaking, research skills, self-sufficiency, team-work, planning, media literacy, planning, and goal setting. Students will learn and understand the difference between hard and soft skills. As a podcast host, focusing on Soft Skills, this makes me happy. The Capstone project asks the student to create a quality program or experience for themselves that will develop their professional self and ability. SMART Goals, resumes, and interviewing skills are covered.
Career Exploration and Prep is an excellent course for young adults of all ages. The target ages are 16 and up, but the resource is acceptable for motivated younger students as well. I would recommend this Guide for families and co-op situation.
(The following is a guest post from Lolita, a content strategist at Praxis.)
You’re probably not thinking about your career seriously yet. You’re not alone.
Many teens push professional goals aside and just focus on getting through high school. Then college time hits and they’re left with just focusing on getting through college. After that? You guessed it. They just get through work, left wondering what they missed in high school and college.
Your professional life doesn’t have to be boring and life-sucking. In fact, it should be fun.
Want to accelerate your career? Start today to set yourself apart.
The coolest thing about these ideas is they don’t change depending on where you’re going to college or what your major is. They don’t change if you’re wanting to take a gap year or skip college, either.
I’ve linked these ideas to lots of outside resources so you can do some more research and follow the ideas wherever they lead you (because it’s no fun to follow anyone’s advice verbatim!)
Teach yourself an instrument. (Don’t get a teacher. Learn it yourself.)
Build a website. No one else has a personal website at your age! Document your high school experience and your projects there!
Teach someone else a skill. What better way to pass on what you know?
Learn a skill set that is uncommon today. Study something like blacksmithing or knitting.
Blog every day for a month. See if it won’t change your writing skills.
Do anything every day for a month. You’d be surprised at the skills you build by sticking to something for thirty days.
Set your goals in 30-day segments. Want to learn something new? Build a 30-day project around that goal.
Read x amount every single day. Instead of setting a huge goal of reading a certain amount of books, start small. Read 30 pages every day, or 20, or 10: whatever you feel you can handle. 20 pages per day is 140 pages per week. That’s a small book’s amount! Besides, once you get started reading, you’re more likely to keep going.
Complete a short course that’s relevant to your career interests. Places like Udemy have great courses that can help you expand your mind and build new skills!
Go to conferences. Meet up with other people that think like you. Challenge your mind to think outside the box. Build your network young!
Volunteer. There are hundreds of ways you can give back to your community and invest in yourself at the same time!
Get a part-time job. Nothing will give you better experience than working in the market and making money for it.
Find a mentor. Do you have big goals or ideas? Find someone ahead of you in those goals and learn from them. Better yet, do some free work for them and show them how much their advice matters to you.
Start a podcast. Want to share your ideas with the world? It’s not hard to get started podcasting! You’ll build public speaking and content creation skills to boot.
Hey, I’m Lolita, content strategist at Praxis and lifelong learner. I was homeschooled for most of my high school experience; I spent a lot of that time running a small business raising dogs. I’m a guinea pig of all the ideas I mentioned above. You can follow me on Quora, where I dive into writing answers for fun. Check out my Instagram, where I’ve challenged myself to do things like a streak of daily polaroids. I tweet sometimes here, and post about my work on Facebook here. My email is email@example.com and I’m always excited to talk about education, career success, and big ideas!
I love working with parents of tweens and teens to develop a Personalized Learning Plan for their Jr and Sr High School years. High School should be a time when students are considering and exploring opportunities, being exposed to possibilities, and honing their work ethic, academic and skill sets. During this time they should begin career exploration.
For many parents, it can be overwhelming to think about covering all the basis for High school, let alone start thinking about what comes next. But, when I am working with families during Academic Advising sessions, I always start with where the students/parents think the young adult will end up after high school. Will they go to college, go to work, go to an apprenticeship, a ministry or the military?
Answers to these career exploration questions will help determine the course students should take during high school.
For instance, if a student or parent is relatively certain that their student wants to go military enlisted right out of high school, and the sooner, the better, I would advise them differently than if they wanted to go to a Military Academy. Their high school programs will look a lot different, even though a rigorous Physical Education program would be recommended for both.
If a student thinks they want to go into a Creative Field, like Writing or Movie Production, I will advise them to begin building their online presence as soon as possible, with either a blog or a YouTube channel, along with opportunities and classes that will develop their skills, along with their Transcript.
They are hired for their hard skills and fired for their soft skills
Of course, not every student is going to know what they want to do “when they grow up.” The reality is that many of them are probably going to be doing a LOT of different things as the Bureau of Labor Statistics points out. Most young adults should expect to have over 14 jobs during their vocational life-time. This statistic indicates that young adults need training in the soft skills of adaptability, flexibility, critical thinking, and so much more! Focusing on life skills such is always a good idea; if your kids are flexible, good communicators and know how to learn, they’ll go far regardless of what career field they go into!
For Career Exploration, think in terms of Career Clusters
With the changing world, and having to prepare our kids for jobs that may not even exist, focusing on career clusters, rather than a specific career, is a more logical way to approach career exploration. The following are Career Clusters, as defined by the Bureau of Labor:
Do you still need more career exploration? Try clubs, camps, jobs, and internships!
Exposing young adults to clubs, camps, jobs, and internships might spark an interest that takes them in crazy directions. Both of our sons have done internships for our State’s Family Heritage Council in the State Capital during Legislative Sessions. While this hasn’t led directly to a job, per se, it has exposed them to policy-making, lobbying, connections around the state, allowed them to rub shoulders with men and women with an incredible work ethic and led to other internships and opportunities. These kinds of opportunities also give our kids the confidence to do the next big thing.
Still need more help?
What if your student can’t decide on what’s next? Check out our Academic Advising program, where you’ll get help not only creating a Personalized Learning Plan for High School, but suggestions and curriculum for career exploration and development. Our Survive Homeschooling High school E-book, is full of resources to kick start what’s next brainstorming. We also offer an Orienteering course which will allow the student to take responsibility for their career exploration with plenty of surveys, brainstorming, discussion, practical tips, and more!
Are you teaching soft skills and career readiness in your homeschool?
A well-known adage in the business world is, “You’re hired for your hard skills, you’re fired for your soft skills.”
Hard skills are those easily measurable and defined skills, like the ability to create an excellent PowerPoint, program a computer, speak a foreign language, or re-build a diesel engine. Soft skills are less quickly defined, perhaps, and can also go by power skills or personality traits. Soft skills are things like your ability to communicate effectively, work on a team, use critical thinking, and live and play with integrity.
Why are soft skills just as, if not more important, than hard skills in today’s quickly changing job market? Hard skills are easily taught through classes or training, but no amount of technical knowledge can make up for lack of integrity or work ethic.
What does this mean for us as homeschooling parents?
In the same way, we spend time, money, and effort looking for the all elusive perfect math curriculum; we should be strategizing ways to help develop our kids’ soft skills.
These skills include things such as:
Now how do we focus on teaching Soft Skills?
Communication goes hand in hand with academics as we teach our kids to write and speak well. A robust writing curriculum works best in a group setting, in my opinion, where kids are required to read their writing out loud and give and take feedback from teachers and fellow students.
A solid Speech and Debate class or regular presentations or recitations will help develop communication skills as well.
Working on teams, be they sports or academic is a great way to develop teamwork. Your student can learn collaboration skills by getting a job or volunteering or even working with parents and fellow students on projects and events. Also doing simple things, like yard work with your family can require you to develop teamworking skills. Here students learn essential tactics such as communicating clearly, listening well, and doing tasks they wish were delegated to others.
Perplexors, or logic puzzles, are a super fun way to develop deductive reasoning skills. Parents also need to ensure that their students use a solid math and science curriculum. Lego League, Odyssey of the Mind, National History Day and Science Fair Competitions all demand and develop critical thinking skills in a fun and challenging way. Don’t overlook learning Logic- both informal and formal –a tremendous critical thinking training tool.
In my mind, nothing develops creativity better than actually being creative regularly. Take part in daily or weekly writing, painting, drawing challenges, start a blog, take up photography. Students can even join our Writing and Art Clubs. Here students set their own goals (developing critical thinking), get regular prompts, assessments, and challenges. Most importantly, kids are inspired by each other!
In today’s job market, flexibility and adaptability are more important than ever! Today’s students will probably have around 15 jobs during their working life span. Many of them which will probably be Independent Contractors, collaborating with teams from around the world. This global market makes flexibility and adaptability more crucial than ever! Learningforeign language, religions and culture, travel, and campaigning are all excellent ways to develop these areas. Reading about history, and understanding geography allows us to take into account different times, people, and places, which in turn gives us a broader perspective.
The best way to teach work ethic is by having your kids work. Work alongside them and teach them the value of work. Tie their work to meaning, so it doesn’t seem like a time waste. Have them do chores, and contribute to the family in significant ways. For example, setting the table, vacuuming, taking out the trash, etc. They can even work on larger projects, like painting the living room or laying a brick wall. Work can take on many forms, and the academic work of powering through a tough logic curriculum or winning a medal on the Latin National Exam should not be overlooked.
Teach your kids to use planners and daytimers from an early age. Have family planning meetings weekly, so kids get a big picture overview of what is happening in the lives of their families. Teach your kids to SMART goals and how to prioritize so that they can meet their goals.
Have filters and timers on electronics with an electronic free day each week. Use your electronics as tools that you manage, so that your kids aren’t hindered or addicted to them — place parameters around what happens when. For example, you can set between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. as electronic free, because that time is for sleeping. Turn off the wifi, take the phones, and make sure your kids get the right amount of sleep. Their ability to set and accomplish goals will be so much more doable on a good nights sleep. Teach your kids media etiquette(netiquette).
Integrity is all about character. I talked in one of our podcasts about how when my Grandpa shook your hand, it was going to happen, even if it cost him. My Grandpa’s word and commitment was a binding agreement, in his mind, and he would do what it took to make sure he could follow through on whatever he’d agreed to. Telling the truth, showing up, creating and keeping commitments, understanding limits (yours and others) these are all marks of integrity.
We’ve done in-depth Bible studies with our kids from the time they were very young. These studies, along with in-depth history studies, have allowed us to talk about what has worked and what hasn’t in life. Teach your kids empathy; have them get involved in serving others. Develop Grit goals so that your kids can learn to persevere through difficulties, hardship, and trials. Teach your kids to pray and give them living examples of what it means to live our faith out loud.
There’s a lot to think about as you train and educate your kids. It doesn’t have to be either or as we teach our kids hard skills and soft skills- take an integrated approach and use academics to teach soft skills! Not sure where to start? Our Academic Advising program can help!
Would you love to create a unique and much-needed addition to your homeschool group or co-op? Plan and host a homeschool college and career fair for your group! This will be my fourth year creating this one of a kind experience for our local teens. So I am going to share with you all the details on planning a homeschool college and career fair for YOUR group!
Why Your Group Needs a Homeschool College and Career Fair
When you decide to homeschool, you take on a weighty load. Being responsible for your child’s education can be fraught with moments of mom guilt and worry that you are going to ruin your child.
Then you do something even crazier! You decide to homeschool during the high school years. Keeping records, choosing the best curriculum for the right year, and making sure you cover all the correct course takes over your thoughts. In the midst of all this stress, it can be easy to see “completing high school” as the ultimate goal. In reality, though, finishing high school is only part of the puzzle. We are also preparing our teens for the next step – post graduate education and/or career development.
Part of the reason I went forward with planning a homeschool college and career fair for my homeschool group was an awareness about our tendencies as homeschoolers to move career development to the back burner. And I get it! It can be challenging enough accomplishing everything that needs to be covered by our student for a high school diploma.
The other reason I created a homeschool college and career fair is that I am just a little passionate (read obsessed) with seeing people connect with their interests. That amazing moment when a person connects with the “right” job, receiving energy from a day’s work is amazing!
6 Benefits to Planning a College and Career Fair
There are some amazing benefits to a local homeschool college and career fair!
The fair can be tailored to the specific needs of homeschoolers.
Parents and teens can begin identifying schools of interest as they talk to colleges, asking questions.
Parents can also gain a lot of knowledge on important dates, ACT/SAT, financial aid, the application process, and dual enrollment.
It is a fun evening hanging out with friends and listening to speakers making career development less intimidating for teens.
Students are exposed to a wide variety of careers, increasing the likelihood of sparking interest in a certain career field.
Colleges are given the opportunity to witness first-hand the caliber of homeschool students.
Planning a Homeschool College and Career Fair
A homeschool college and career night, while a lot of leg work, is completely doable and fun for any homeschool group. Our homeschool group has around 100 families in a small Midwestern town, just to give you an idea of our size and budget, or should I say, lack of budget 🙂
The College and Career Fair has two elements that have made it an event that lots of families attend and teens request!
Local Colleges Are Invited to the Fair
First, the college aspect of the fair. One element to the fair is asking local colleges to come. Any college within an hour is typically happy to come. I started with a larger Christian college and our local community colleges the first year as they were the most receptive. The military is often thrilled to have the opportunity to attend too. Began making your phone calls several months prior so that you can get on the college and university’s calendars
Our event is the last week of February, and I start making phone calls in the fall.
By planning out several months ahead and speaking of our past attendance, I was able to draw more colleges in the second and third year.
Allow Colleges to Set up Tables and Speak at Break Out Sessions
Colleges are eager to have opportunities to speak so that makes your job easier. The evening is broken into various sessions and two tracks: Parent Track and Teen Track. Different colleges are invited to speak to the parents (teens are welcome to join, of course) on topics like how to apply to college, financial aid, scholarships or taking college classes while still in high school programs.
Having colleges speak on various topics works well for two reasons. Parents are more eager to attend if they believe that they can receive lots of information in one evening. And colleges are happy to put your fair on their list to gain the opportunity for a roomful of an engaged group of parents and teens.
Sweeten the deal by allowing colleges to set up booths where teens and parents can stop and ask questions before and after sessions.
Invite Local Career Professionals to College Fair to Speak with Teens
The other part of the program, Teen Track, is geared to the teens. For the “career” part of the evening, local professionals are invited to come and speak about their chosen career field. We include 7th grade and up, though you will find the younger siblings that come along are almost more excited!
Professionals share with the teens what a typical day looks like and what some of their duties are. Teen Track speakers also share characteristics or personality types that seem to thrive in that career field and education routes. Career speakers may also choose to share salary, perks of the job and some NOT so great things about the job.
How Do I Get Speakers to Come to a Homeschool College Night?
Most homeschool groups are run on a tiny budget. So how do you get speakers to come?
Some speakers will be compensated by their job because some public relation work is required of them. So several speakers will jump at the chance to talk to an interested audience while fulfilling the required hours.
Other speakers will just want to help out since they LOVE to talk about their job and want others to know about it.
Utilize parents in your homeschool group and homeschool graduates. Brainstorm with another homeschool parent about the parents and careers that are represented in your group. Invite some of your homeschool graduates to come back and speak too! You will be surprised when you start thinking about how many people you know that have interesting jobs!:)
Also, think about people you go to church with as they are a great resource too.
Another incentive is the opportunity to connect with families and advertise their business. If a speaker has a business allow them to hand out their literature to those in their group. Once we invited a local lawyer who was running for judge. He spoke on being a lawyer but also did a little campaigning! Worked for everybody! Another speaker was writing a Bible study manual. She taught about writing and self-publishing while sharing how to purchase her book. Win, Win!
If you are a personality test junkie like myself you realize that some personalities are drawn to certain jobs. So don’t worry about having every job represented. But do try to think do I have a job that a “creative” might like or a teen that is gifted in “leadership” will find interesting.
Discovering Your God-Given Gifts by Don and Katie Fortune covers the spiritual gifts mentioned in the Bible and has served as a rich resource when thinking of job “types” to include at the fair.
Discovering Your God-Given Gifts has also been such a blessing when it comes to volunteering in the community and in the local church. You began to see others and their gifts in a whole new light that makes it easier to work with others and appreciate their gifts.
What The Homeschool College and Career Fair Schedule May Look Like
For our homeschool college fair evening, we split it into 4 sessions. When the teens arrive they receive a schedule of the speakers with a brief biography of the speakers on the back. Each speaker talks for two 25 minute sessions, unless they can only do one session. Typically, the teens will have 4 different speakers to choose from for each session.
The evening moves quickly! Prep your speakers beforehand that you will have to stop them after 25 minutes to give the kids time to move to the next class. Speakers may share their business information, if they so choose, to allow an interested teen to contact them with questions or set up a job shadow!
Planning a homeschool college and career fair is so rewarding! Parents, teens and even the speakers all reap the benefits from this amazing evening. If you are feeling led to create a homeschool college fair, step out in faith. And I hope by sharing, you realize how doable it is for your homeschool group! Comment below with any questions!
(Need more great advice about preparing your homeschool student for their career? Check out our career-related posts.
I’m Miranda, The Reluctant Cowgirl. Educator and Vibrant Life Mentor. A city girl married to a country boy! The Reluctant Cowgirl encourages busy moms of tweens and teens to care for their emotional health so they are better equipped to care for the well-being of their family. Single parent, blended family, homeschool mom, heart attack survivor…I’ve been there. After 15 years of facilitating groups, I have witnessed the challenges that so many moms of tweens and teens face in life. And I know that you are doing your best to take care of your family. But are you taking care of your personal growth and self-care? Find practical advice for an emotionally vibrant life at The Reluctant Cowgirl. Join Me!
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