Empowering Educators to Provide Students with Career Exploration Opportunities
Career exploration activities provide students with an opportunity to learn about jobs and occupations. They also help students understand the connection between their education and future career pathways, increasing the potential for graduation and the attainment of certificates and/or degrees.
There is a lot that goes into planning career exploration activities for students. Below are some resources for educators that might be interested in what goes into planning a successful internship or job shadow program between their school, employers, and students. Resources include various generic forms and descriptions from other schools that have successfully implemented programs.
Planning an Internship Program
Below is a brief summary on best practices for planning and implementing an internship program for high school students. In addition to the best practices listed below, please note the examples of successful ongoing programs.
Download the following packet of generic forms to accompany the best practices that have been provided online by the Oregon Department of Education and their successful Internship Dual Credit Program with a local high school and community college.
Download Template Packet
A school will need to have certain structures in place to get a program started.
- Staff— a designated individual to lead the program with students
- Website— dedicated space on their website for information on the program, contacts, forms, and posted available internships for students
- Learning Plan and Course Description
Other ideas that may help the creation of an internship program and its success:
- Planned service project as a part of the curriculum
- Partnership with a community college for dual credit hours
As a part of engaging employers and recruiting them to participate with your internship program a school will need to follow through on different phases accompanied by materials.
- Materials— Create materials for employer engagement
- Pitch— Prepare staff on how to pitch the program to employers
- Meet— Set up meeting with employers to go over internship parameters and expectations, including roles, pay, learning, safety, confidentiality, insurance, compensation, labor laws, and termination policies.
- Job Description— Work with employer on creating a job description that reflects an internship learning experience
- Contract— An agreement should be signed between the employer, the school, and the student, outlining the duties of each party involved in the internship.
Student Recruitment and Engagement
- Coach Staff— Inform all school staff on the program, how they can recommend students for the internship opportunities, where the internships will be posted on-line, and feature the program in a school newsletter.
- Recruit Students— Estimate the number of students your school will start with based on staff availability, school resources, and the number of employers engaged.
- Student Job Search Preparation— as a part of recruiting students, find ways to provide them with structure around a typical job search including mock interviews; job shadows; how to write a resume, list of references, cover letter; participate in an online job search; understand the difference between a job and occupation; take an assessment on interests and strengths for their future career pathway development. Learn more
- Match Students— Create tools to assist your staff to match students with appropriate internships including an application form and a counselor check list.
- Student Workplace Preparation— Provide students with preparation materials including a parent letter requiring signature, a registration form that outlines goals, information on dress code, and a time sheet that will need to be filled out weekly.
- Reflection Activities— Designated school coordinator should work with students throughout the internship to make sure there are no issues, they are fulfilling their hours, and talk about how their goals and learning experiences. At the end of the internship the student should complete a reflection form to help them think about the skills they have learned, and put together that info along with any completed projects for their resume.
Other types of career exploration activities
- Career Fairs— Organize a career fair where different business and organizations that provide resources for students around career pathway development come in and engage with students, provide mock interviews, and hire for internships or summer employment.
- Field Trips— Organize a field trip for your students to a local business to explore what the company does, how all the jobs work together to create an outcome, and see how a professional environment operates.
- Senior Capstone Project— Project based learning can be a powerful tool to engage students with specific jobs and occupations and the skills associated with them. It can also teach students about purpose and relating careers to the needs of their community.
- Speaker Series— Have local employers come in and talk about their occupation and job, and their own career pathway to help your students gain a better understanding of existing jobs and what it takes to work in specific fields.
- Peer to Peer Support— Atrisco Heritage Academy High School — Internship Program
More Resources for Educators