May 15, 20249:28 am

Advocating for Early Career Exploration

Author: Sharla Schuller

Have you ever stopped to think about how exploring career paths shaped your journey? During our middle school years, we are taught the importance of planning and goal setting, when our young minds are open to the endless possibilities and eager to explore the world we live in.

At this age, students should be encouraged to explore their career options to foster their curiosity, self-awareness, and interests. By encouraging young individuals to explore different career paths, we can empower them to make informed choices about their future and establish realistic goals.

According to a study conducted by the American Student Assistance® (ASA) and Education Strategy Group (ESG), a student’s academic performance, motivation, and overall job satisfaction can be greatly impacted by early exposure to a variety of occupations. By introducing students to a wide range of career options, we can help them discover their passions, strengths, and interests, setting them on a path towards success and fulfillment.

Guided Pathways Start Here

This is where Journeys Map can make a difference in guiding students in their career exploration. Journeys offers students a personalized roadmap that navigates them through different career paths based on interests, skills, and values. Journeys Map powerful data analysis capabilities match students with potential career options that align with their unique situation. Through interactive quizzes, resources, and real-world insights, Journeys Map enables students to make informed decisions about their future with confidence. Whether it’s diving into apprenticeships, exploring vocational training, or even dreaming up entrepreneurial ventures, Journeys is like a compass guiding students toward paths that truly speak to them.

In addition to beginning exploring career options earlier, school advisors need ways to connect better with their students. Advisors are reliable and essential guides when it comes to navigating the jungle of career discovery. They can help students confidently explore many career paths by utilizing Journeys as their companion. Journeys offers a vast array of resources so advisors can craft tailored guidance that aligns perfectly with each student’s dreams and abilities.  Using Journeys resources, advisors can help students in their own personal journey, whether it’s discovering a hidden skill or pursuing unusual career paths.

Advisors also face challenges in career guidance with high student-to-advisor ratios and limited time working with individual students. Journeys offers a solution to these challenges by providing advisors with resources to help personalize their support, or even empower the students to navigate on their own.

Cyber Professionals In Demand

One career that’s currently in high demand and sparking interests in middle schoolers is cybersecurity. As technology continues to shape our world, the need for cybersecurity professionals likewise continues to grow. To highlight this growing career path, Journeys partners with educational institutions like the Cyber Center of Excellence (CCOE) to offer virtual career exploration events. These events provide students with insights into the world of cybersecurity to potentially spark their interest in the field.

Many states are now recognizing the importance of earlier career exploration. In Indiana, the Commission for Higher Education has developed a Comprehensive Career Coaching and Navigation Framework that is focused on career exploration, engagement, and experience. Kentucky has also developed statewide efforts to support its advising needs. They offer the Kentucky Advising Academy (KAA) which includes a College and Career Advising Toolkit. This toolkit includes career exploration, financial aid and literacy, and information on postsecondary opportunities.

Middle school is a place where dreams begin to take shape. By emphasizing career exploration during this crucial time, we’re raising the next generation of professionals who are equipped to succeed in a world that is always changing, in addition to getting students ready for the workforce. 

Interested in seeing how Journeys can help your students on their career exploration? Journeys Map is free to try today! Explore the possibilities!