Innovative Career Activities for High School Students [Episode 65]


Here's What to Expect In This Episode:

When I think back to when I was in high school, there are so many real-world skills that I wish we were taught. Being exposed to more conversations about career options and career readiness is one of those things. I’m sure so many of you feel the same way!

Now as a school counselor, you have the opportunity to have these conversations with your students so they can explore all kinds of career options and feel confident in getting (and keeping!) a job. Career preparation is an amazing way to make an impact on your students. The only problem is, how do you do this in an engaging way?

If you’ve been using your precious time searching for career activity ideas on Pinterest and Google, I’m here to save you. Inside this episode, I’m highlighting my favorite career activities for high school students and how you can use them.

They’re broken down into categories and they are all aligned to ASCA mindsets and behaviors. Best of all, you can find the links to all of these career activities for high school students in the resource section below.

If you’re looking for even more ways to impact your students through career readiness and career activities, download my free PDF: 10 Low Impact Ideas for Adding High Impact Career Services to Your High School Counseling Program. Grab it here!

Topics Covered in This Episode:

  • A game that will help students learn about new careers
  • Low-prep career activities that you can grab and go quickly 
  • A fun way to prepare your students for A+ job interviews 
  • How to nurture your students’ soft skills to help them keep their jobs
  • Activities that will challenge thinking and spark meaningful conversations
  • A lesson idea for teaching real-world examples of budgeting

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Read the transcript for this episode:

Welcome to Episode 65 of high school counseling conversations. I got the idea for this episode because it’s something that a lot of y’all are searching the internet for.

You’re scouring Pinterest and Google looking for ideas for career activities to use with your high school students. There may be a lot out there for career research and career exploration for our younger students. But what can you be doing with your older students to help prepare them for job interviews, keep that job using soft skills and problem solve in the workplace using some real world scenarios.

I want to highlight a few career activities in this episode, explain to you how I’ve used them, and then how you could use them. I’ve thought of a couple of ways to categorize and work through some of these resources for you. And here’s how I’m going to break them down.

First, a couple of games, then a few conversation starters. And then a classroom lesson and a small group idea. This episode will be heavy on the links, I’ll link everything for you in the show notes if you want to grab them and use them with your students.

Everything I mentioned is sold individually in my TPT. store front, and the most are also bundled together at a discount. If you hear about multiple of these resources that you’d want to grab. I’ll let you poke around and see them for yourself. Again, they’re all linked in the show notes of your podcast player, or you can find them at counselor 65. Let’s talk about career activities.

High School Counseling conversations is a podcast where we talk about exactly that. A casual potpourri of school counseling topics intended to grow us as school counselors, but also give us space to enjoy each other’s company. I’m Lauren from counselor click and I’m sharing my experiences and perspectives as a high school counselor. No topic is off limits. And I’m certain we’ll cover it all. I’m your high school counseling hype girl here to help you energize your school counseling program and remind you of how much you love your job. Whether you’re just getting your feet wet as an intern, or you’re nearing retirement, you’ll feel like you’re just popping in to catch up with your school counseling bestie. Let’s go.

First up the career building blocks game. Here’s a fun fact, this was the first resource I ever created. It’s the first one I ever wrote a blog post about and put in my TPT store. And that feels like 100 years ago. It’s definitely gotten a few upgrades since then. So don’t worry. This is one of my most popular resources because it’s tried and true.

Grab a building blocks game like Jenga from Amazon or find one used from Goodwill or on Facebook marketplace. Just make sure it has all of the pieces. 54 to be exact. This resource contains 54 questions to write on each of your blocks. And once you set it up, you can use it over and over again. I love taking this game into classrooms in case I have some extra time at the end of a lesson or bring it into a smaller classroom as a station while I’m doing career rotations around the room.

Let me add when you’re bringing it with you just as something to do to fill some time, maybe if you have a couple of minutes before the bell rings, that doesn’t even have to tie to the main lesson of what you’re doing. You can use this career activity just as an add on to something else that you’re doing with a classroom of students.

You’ll need two players or students to play at a minimum and there’s no maximum to how many students can play. I guess just how many can gather around the Jenga game as you’re playing it. The questions ranged from job interview type questions to what would you do scenarios on the job.

I found a lot of success playing this with students of all ability levels in the high school setting. I can’t tell you how many times I use this career building blocks career activity with students or loaned it out to teachers to keep in their classroom for a few days or even a few weeks. Teachers loved having this on hand for themselves as well. You could use it as a station in a classroom, like I mentioned, or you could use it as the main event in a full classroom setting or even an icebreaker with a smaller group of students.

Next up in the games category is the career card grab game. This is a spin off of the popular game called fishbowl. Have you ever heard of it? I love this game because it creates laughter and memory. So why not turn that into a career readiness activity? Have you ever played fishbowl before? Like personally? I love playing it with friends, so I figured let’s get students playing it too.

To prepare for playing the game, students will learn about the different careers that are inside this lesson with a matching game. It comes inside the resource. Students then split into two teams and they use the career cards inside this activity. They’ll play three rounds with a different spin on each round.

In round one, they’re gonna have to describe the career on the card using words and actions. Sounds pretty easy, right? In round two, they’re going to act out the career that’s on the card with no words, just actions. So think charades. And then in round three, they’re only going to be able to use a one word to describe the career on the card that they draw.

Each round uses the same career cards so they’re not completely clueless by the time they get to round three and they’re describing the career with one word. By round three, they will have already played two previous rounds with the same clues or careers. Everything you need is right inside this digital download.

There are 54 careers plus space for you to add six of your own or you can always just add your own cards in there. But I’m certain this will challenge students to learn about some careers that may be off the beaten path of it or that they don’t hear about as much like a coroner, or logistics analyst, or a genetic counselor just to name a few. Okay, let’s move into some conversation starters.

I love these because you can prep them ahead of time and keep them in a basket in your office just to grab and go. To assemble anything that’s like a conversation starter or a grab and go type activity, I use one inch album rings from Amazon and I’ll link to an Amazon affiliate link for you with those.

They’re about $9 for 100 of them. So you will have enough of these album rings for whatever activities you want to put together for yourself as a counselor or for your students. You’ll have enough for forever. There little rings that can hold together something that’s been hole punched. You’ll know what I mean once you go to the link and you see them.

Depending on how I want to use these conversation starters, I might prep enough for a whole classroom to get into partners. Or I might just have a few if I’m using it as a station or in a smaller group of students. They’re easy enough to prep, you just cut and you can even use a paper cutter, that’ll go really quickly, hole punch and then add your rings. Boom. Done.

The job interview fan and pick cards are a great way to practice getting ready for an interview. And this does not have to be a big formal career-type interview that is like really far away once they become adults. I use these in my office with students individually all the time for upcoming part time job interviews. I see more and more job interviews on the casual side nowadays with student jobs. But the student who can think about the questions and their responses ahead of time, definitely has the upper hand in that application and interview process.

Every time I would use these with a student they would come back to me and say what a difference it made in their confidence level. Because even as an adult that tell me about yourself type question in an interview seems really easy, of course until you actually get into the situation. And you have to succinctly tell the important things about yourself that matter. In a really clear and concise manner. It’s hard if you haven’t thought about it and practice it.

This activity definitely helped students alleviate those nerves and anxieties around a job interview. So the best way to prepare for a job interview is to practice. Bree left a review on this resource which I so appreciate because she gave a very tangible example of how it helped a student that she was working with. She said that the student use these cards or she used the cards with a 12th grade student. And then she said that student came back to me after my job interview and said she walked in feeling so prepared and confident and it helped her have a better interview than she’d ever had before.

Isn’t it the best feeling when you get to use counseling tools to help students find success. I love the feeling of helping a student be prepared for their career goals even if it’s just a part time job in high school. Career preparation is an amazing way to make an impact on your students.

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Once they have the job, how do we nurture your students soft skills to help them keep the job. The next resource I want to highlight is a soft skills scenarios set of cards that really set students up for success because it’s a full on lesson about soft skills. First, they’ll do some understanding about the different types of soft skills and do some self reflection on where their strengths and weaknesses are before they even get to practicing. The conversation questions will reinforce skills by practicing after they first deepen that awareness on the whole topic of soft skills. Like they might not have any previous knowledge about soft skills.

Of course with all of my Counselor Clique Resources, these are aligned to ASCA mindsets and behaviors, and you’ll see those linked in all of the lesson plans inside of these resources. So after students participate in the soft skills scenarios activity, they will be able to have a positive attitude around work and learning, and they’ll also develop social maturity and behaviors appropriate to the situation and environment. Those are pulled right from the ASCA mindsets and behaviors. That is a goal that I’m trying to do with students as they are using the soft skills scenarios.

How a student acts at work should probably be a little different than they act on the weekends with their friends, right? This lesson can stand on its own but it’s also one of those that I mentioned that bundled at a discounted rate with a bunch of other soft skills activities if you’re trying to narrow in specifically on soft skills with your high school students in terms of like all the different career activities you could do.

Lastly, in the conversation cards arena, we have the career scenario cards. These can help students prepare for the tough situations they may encounter at a job. From ethical dilemmas to situations that just don’t have a black and white we’re right or wrong answer. Your students will really be challenged by these scenarios which will spark some meaningful conversation. I truly mean that I’ve seen great conversation come out of these.

Many things that we’ll encounter in our jobs and career throughout our working life are gray. They’re gray areas, forcing us to make the best decision that we can at the time. Isn’t this even true for our careers as high school counselors too? Yes, so much gray.

Different scenarios in the workplace can be frustrating or confusing for students if they haven’t taken the time to think through their own values before they get to a real world situation where they’re forced to take action or to lead others through those gray areas. Here are two examples from the 30 Career Scenario Cards you’ll get with this career activity download, so that you can get a feel for what’s inside.

A customer calls to complain about something they insisted you messed up on. Your manager seems to take the customer side, but you know, the customer is lying. What do you do? And then here’s another one. You usually throw your clothes on and quickly leave for work. Right before you’re about to leave, you realize you have no clean uniform shirts. What do you do?

Now let me give you one lesson I’d for sure do in a classroom setting and then one small group centered around careers that I created. The student budgeting workbook and spreadsheet can help you connect careers to real world application. Oftentimes students don’t understand how budgeting works, and I don’t blame them. Even through a lot of research and practice budgeting is challenging. Especially managing paying off debt, paying recurring bills, saving and spending.

If your students are required to take an economics class or some sort of personal finance class, this would be a great activity to use to partner with that classroom teacher to do especially since the Financial Literacy Month is coming up in April. Did you know that? You could have students do some prep work on a career they’re interested in with some salary research, and then bring that to the table to create a sample budget.

This activity helps them learn and think through some key factors in creating and maintaining a budget. And then they get to work with a customizable spreadsheet that’s pre populated with all those back end formulas to make the numbers make sense.

And here’s what I mean by that. They can put in their monthly take home pay, and then they can type in how much they’re spending on groceries and it automatically subtracts it for them, and tells them how much they have left. It gives them recommended percentages on how much to spend in certain areas, because sometimes you don’t even know where to start. Heck, this might even be helpful for you so have at it.

Then lastly, this might be my favorite thing I’ve created around careers. It’s because it’s a really sweet spot. For me, I talked about small groups and a couple episodes past. So this is combining small groups and careers. This career exploration small group is seven sessions of activities to do with high school students around topics like career exploration, career readiness, majors and colleges, soft skills, vision boards, and more.

I created this to run in a small group setting, obviously, but you could definitely break it up and run it in multiple classroom settings or in a workshop style or even a lunch and learn setting with students as standalone topics. I think your students will get the most growth and return on their time by attending all of the groups and having it in a small group setting where they can almost have a portfolio of everything that they’ve learned in your time together.

Ya’ll, I could talk for hours on career activities. I love them. I personally did not have enough exposure to different careers in my high school years. And I totally wish I would have my exposure was limited to the careers surrounding me in my world. And then I also had an idea of a lot of things I did not want to do. I spent a lot of time and energy in college realizing what I didn’t like and what I wasn’t good at and I wish I had started the conversation around career sooner.

If you’re looking for some more ways to impact your students through career readiness and career activities. I also want to make sure you grab a free PDF list that I created for you called 10 low impact ideas for adding high impact career services to your high school counseling program. You can get it by going to impact. Thanks for dropping in and I’ll see you next week.

Thanks for listening to today’s episode of high school counseling conversations. All of the links I talked about today can be found in the show notes and also at Be sure to hit follow or subscribe wherever you listen to your podcast so that you never miss a new episode. Connect with me over on Instagram, send me a DM at Counselor Clique. That’s CLIQUE. Thanks so much for hanging out with me. I’ll see you next time.

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Cheers + Happy Listening!

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