by Samantha Dean on 10 Aug, 2021
Early career exploration is important for young students to plan for the future, but also to feel more secure and happy along the way. Exploring different career pathways, through programs such as ChatterHigh’s Daily Quiz, or through other online and in-person resources has many benefits.
Career exploration could start in elementary school but it becomes more important as students begin to make their own course choices in high school. Research suggests that middle school is the most effective time for career guidance. In an ASA study of middle school students, they found that 87% of middle school students are interested in ways to match their specific skills and interests with potential careers, and 85% are interested in ways to learn the education and experience requirements needed for the careers they are interested in.
Students who start considering their possible future well before they graduate, experience heightened self-awareness and increased hope for the future. They also begin to build a vocational identity, improve their relationship-building skills, and increase motivation, engagement, and overall success. Read on to learn more about how early career education contributes to these positive outcomes for youth now and in the future.
Developing self-awareness has been linked to higher levels of happiness and research shows that increased self-awareness helps students to become more confident and creative, build stronger relationships, and improve communication skills. To really dive into career exploration, students must clarify what is important to them. Reflecting on areas like interests, values and skills helps prepare a solid foundation for students to understand what is important to them.
“There are a number of resources, including ChatterHigh, that focus on self-awareness, helping individuals to ensure their chosen directions are grounded in an understanding of their own interests, values, strengths and preferences.”-Sareena Hopkins, Executive Director, Canadian Career Development Foundation (CCDF)
Along with self-awareness, hope has been proven to predict objective academic achievement better than intelligence, personality, and previous academic achievement. Hope also has an impact on outlook, resilience, and actions.
So how does career exploration actually foster hope? As hope has three key components: goals, perceived pathways to those goals, and motivation to follow those pathways (agency), career exploration creates an environment for these to come to life.
Vocational identity is an individual's self-defined occupational goals, interests, values, and roles. It's a core structure within self-concept characterized by clarity, coherence, and stability of perceived occupational motivation and abilities. Early career exploration can help students start to build this identity through learning more about what interests and motivates them.
Through the ChatterHigh seek-and-find gamified platform, students are exposed to a multitude of different occupations creating in-depth interest reports along the way. These reports can then be reviewed by them, along with their career counsellors or parents. Students are exposed to information that helps them to identify the way forward and they can start setting goals to help them get there.
Students entering high school have new freedom to select courses of interest, but choosing the right ones for the future is important. Using career education and exploration activities can help students to discover and evaluate the options based on their interests and values, enabling them to map the pathway ahead. That pathway includes choosing the right courses and setting personal goals.
Having a plan in place can build confidence and create a new found motivation to work towards a goal. No one wants to waste their time and energy taking courses that they have no interest in and have little value for the future. With confidence and motivation, success is more likely.
It is exciting to share new ideas, goals, and aspirations with those around you. In fact, research shows that 88% of students speak to their families about their career options. Creating an education or career path with help from parents, guidance counsellors, teachers or other significant figures in a student's life, can help nurture or build relationships. Topics such as these can be a great start to meaningful conversations.
Interested in starting a conversation but not sure how to get it going? Read more on how to have career discussions with your kids.
As discussed before, some benefits that come with self-awareness include happiness, confidence, and creativity. Along with those come motivation, engagement, and better performance.
“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.”
After generating a career path, long and short-term goals can be set! With a goal in sight, students will be inclined to work towards them, increasing their motivation to succeed, engaging them to learn about what interests them, and working hard to work through to post-secondary.
ChatterHigh helps students explore career options and map out a path for their future. The platform is used primarily by middle and high school students in Canada and the USA. Creating an account is free for educators and students. Student progress can be tracked easily by career teachers and guidance counsellors can use ChatterHigh to help students plan their courses throughout high school to make sure their class choices are aligned with their future plans for university, trades, and other skills training.