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5 Career Introduction Activities Every Middle School Needs

Middle school is the perfect time for students to start exploring potential careers. As they begin to develop their interests and start thinking about their future, we can take advantage of this opportunity to open doors for them. As educators, you can explore various careers with them and help them develop skills necessary for the workforce. To help kids in grades 5 through 8 to start thinking about their career options, here are five career introduction activities that every middle school needs.

1. Career Exploration Day

Organizing a career exploration day is a great way to expose students to unique industries and career options. The event can involve inviting guest speakers from different professions to speak to students about their career paths, the skills required for their jobs, and the opportunities and challenges they face in their work.

Career exploration day should also include career assessments to help students identify their interests and aptitudes. With these assessments, students can explore career options that match their strengths and interests, which can help guide their academic choices in middle school and beyond. 

Make sure to offer career choices that are both from college degrees as well as the trade industry. Too often, we focus solely on college-bound opportunities. But there are highly successful careers that come from learning a trade. It is important to offer these options to middle school students so they can explore options at an early age.

2. Job Shadowing

Job shadowing allows students to spend time with professionals in their field of interest to gain a deeper understanding of a career path. It can involve spending a few hours or a whole day with a professional to observe their work activities and ask questions about the job. Job shadowing can help students understand the requirements of a job and the skills needed to succeed in that profession.

Schools can partner with local businesses or organizations to provide job shadowing opportunities for their students. For example, students interested in healthcare careers can shadow a nurse, physician, or other healthcare professionals. Similarly, students interested in a trade can explore those options with highly talented trade professionals and gain hands-on experience in the field.

3. Career Fairs

Career fairs are another way to expose students to a wide range of careers. These events can bring together professionals from different industries to talk to students about their jobs, education requirements, and job outlook. Students can visit booths, talk to professionals, and ask questions about their careers.

Career fairs can also include hands-on activities that give students a taste of what professionals in a particular field do. For example, students can participate in activities that demonstrate the work of a chemist, a graphic designer, a carpenter, or a landscaper.

4. Mock Interviews

Mock interviews are designed to prepare students for job interviews by simulating the experience. In these interviews, students are asked typical interview questions, and they must respond as they would in a real interview. The goal of mock interviews is to help students develop their communication skills, build their confidence, and understand the importance of preparation. As middle schoolers practice with each other, their interpersonal skills will grow, and they will become better communicators, which is important in any career.

5. Career Research Projects

Assign career research projects to students as part of their coursework or as an extra-curricular activity. These projects can look like research papers, presentations, or videos but should focus on a particular career or industry. Students can use these projects to explore the skills, education requirements, and job outlook for their chosen profession.

Career projects can also be a collaborative effort, where students work in groups to research and present on different careers. This approach can provide a more comprehensive view of different professions and allow students to learn from each other's research.

Preparing for the Future

Hosting career introduction activities for middle schoolers can be a pivotal experience. Preparing students for the workforce and future success allows students to gain a better understanding of various professions, what they entail, and what qualifications are necessary. Students can interact with professionals from various fields and learn about their experiences, skill sets, and education requirements.

Career introduction activities can also help students identify their interests and passions, encouraging them to pursue a path that aligns with their strengths. Ultimately, early exposure to the job market can help students make informed decisions about their future and set them up for success in their careers. Let these activities be an integral part of middle school education in your district.

Written by Deborah Andrus
Education World Contributor
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