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If you’re looking for some ways to refresh career exploration for your high school students, you’ve come to the right place. Career activities are always a hot topic for high school counselors since they should be a pillar of what we’re sharing with students.
The good news is there are a lot of ways to approach this subject — from games, to conversation starters, to full-blown classroom lessons. We get to partner with students by helping them to prepare for interviews, equipping them with soft skills to succeed, and giving them tools to problem solve in the workplace.
Read on for some of my most popular career activities and different ways you can use them with your students (all packaged and ready to go for you in my TPT store).
1- Use career activities that help break the ice
Whether in a classroom or small group setting, the Career Snowball Ice Breaker activity is a great way to start the conversation about careers. It is a simple, engaging introduction activity that gets students talking to and supporting each other right off the bat. I love the peer-to-peer interaction within this activity and how it challenges students to think critically and problem-solve together.
How it works: Students are asked to answer the first question on the card, crumple the paper, and toss it in the center of the room. Then, students grab someone else’s answer and have the opportunity to respond on the second half of the sheet.
For example, the first question may read: “What would you be most nervous about in a job interview today?” in which I student may write “I don’t know what I should wear to a job interview.” Then, another student has a chance to respond on the second half of the card which reads “How would you encourage this student in what they are nervous about?” A student then has an opportunity to think critically about appropriate interview attire and how they could make a classmate feel more confident in this arena. They could write “Wear a button-down and slacks or a nice dress. Be yourself and be confident — you got this!”
What you get: This career activity includes a 5-page downloadable PDF with 6 questions that illicit a first-round answer and then multiple responses. Instructions for how to facilitate are also provided. This works well as an introduction to a career lesson in the classroom setting.
2- Try career activities that get your students talking
Let’s get our students to open up with conversation starter cards! I have a few different options on my TpT store, but in short, I am a huge fan of using cards to get the dialogue rolling around careers. Snag these album rings on Amazon to create conversation starter packs that you can use in an organized classroom lesson or toss them in a basket on your desk for quick grab-and-go scenarios.
My three most-popular conversation starter packs:
- These Career Scenario Cards challenge students to make social and ethical decisions depending on scenarios they may encounter in the workplace. These real-world scenario cards challenge students to think through their own values in situations where they are forced to take action or lead others. 6 blank cards are also included for writing in your own scenarios.
- My Job Interview Fan and Pick Cards are great resources to use with students ALL the time. These offer everyday practice for students to consider strengths and weaknesses as they get ready for an interview… for a part-time job or just something to practice for the future. You can help students alleviate nerves and anxieties around the interview process by providing a safe place to practice. This resource gives you all that you need!
- These Soft Skills Scenarios put students in hypothetical situations to make them think through tough decisions. When you bring these into a group setting, students will be discussing, problem-solving, and even building community as they think deeper about their career readiness and career preparedness.
The conversation starter resources are great for career classroom lessons, small groups, or regular education or special education transition groups.
3- Do career activities that engage students in the classroom
We all know there are barriers when it comes to getting counselors more involved in the classroom (I talk about how to overcome these obstacles here). However, once you find your “in,” goal setting and soft skills are the perfect topics of discussion when bringing career activities to the classroom level. This lesson in my TpT store works well to prepare students for the transition to the workforce or college. With this 17-slide presentation, students will focus on SMART goal setting, soft skills, verbal communication, nonverbal communication, and written communication.
How to use: Students can type and drag and drop as they interact with this Google™ Slide deck to give immediate feedback and interaction. The slides in this resource come on Google Slides but can be downloaded by the buyer into PowerPoint, image, or PDF format by going to File > Download > and choosing an alternate file type. You can share the presentation WITH your students, or you can facilitate it as a group.
This second Goal Setting Classroom Lesson is full of opportunities for self-reflection in a larger group setting. This lesson focuses on SMART goal setting, overcoming barriers, establishing accountability, and recognizing self-talk. By the end of the lesson, students will be able to analyze the influence of their family and peers on their goals, consider their own decision-making skills as they establish their short and long-term goals, and hone in on their self-management skills.
My goal in both of these goal-setting lessons is for students to be able to walk away and advocate for themselves and move forward to achieve the goals that they set. You can tie these goal-setting lessons directly to future careers!
These resources may just scratch the surface when it comes to all that’s out there for career activities and exploration for high school students, but I hope they help either get you started or refresh a career prep regimen that’s maybe feeling a little stale.
I also have several career kits bundled in my TpT store at discount prices if you’re looking for a career activity revamp — such as this Soft Skills Bundle or this Career Bundle 2 for High School Counselors.
Looking for more free resources on career counseling? Download this free PDF with 10 Low Impact Ideas for Adding High Impact Career Services!