Career Exploration and Preparation
BSTA School Counseling
Choosing A Career
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
You probably got asked this from an early age. If you ask a preschooler what they want to be when they grow up, you will hear all kinds of fun answers, from firefighters, teachers and doctors, to mermaids and Mr. Rogers. We consider future careers from the world around us, and by the time a student reaches middle school, it isn’t unusual for them to start seeing so many choices, they just “don’t know” because the choices can be overwhelming.
Why do counselors ask students who are just starting high school, or even middle and elementary school, what careers they are interested in? I don’t expect a sixth or seventh grader (or even a ninth grader) to know what they want to do as a career, and stick with it. I just want them thinking about what is out there, exploring their own interests, skills, abilities and values, and learning about their options so that they don’t close doors they might want open later.
In seventh grade, Utah students take a class called College and Career Awareness (CCA). The purpose of this class is for students to explore occupations and learn about options. As a school counselor, beginning in seventh grade I meet with students every year to go over their personal and academic goals, thoughts about their future career, and to help them do some self exploration. As students get older, the conversation at these meetings solidifies into a more specific direction, and talk more in detail about next steps (like college). Each year, I ask students to do some form of self assessment, whether it is a career interest inventory, skills checklist, or work values sort.
I want to point out that it is okay for students NOT TO KNOW what they want to do in the future. It is common now for adults to change careers multiple times. My focus is on helping students learn about themselves so that they can make more informed decisions as they move forward.
Resources For Career Exploration
You can find lots of tools and resources here to help with career decisions: