One of the main goals of Career & Technical Education at the high school level is to prepare students for career success. To that end, the CTE Department of Durham Public Schools defined its mission as to get all students “Future Ready” (#futureready). During a COVID closure of schools in the spring followed by all remote learning in the fall, our school system had to find a way to continue to provide career awareness and exploration for all students.
Necessity really is the mother of invention. Here are some ways that we have continued providing opportunities for all students:
- Career planning software—Several years ago, our district invested in a career planning platform called Xello. Xello allows students to learn about themselves and match their interests with careers as well as learn about the related education/training for their selected careers. The platform also allows students to create a four-year plan to align their course choices with their career options.
- Virtual Mock Interviews—Preparing students for college, scholarship, and job interviews is an important part of helping students to be future ready. During remote instruction, our career development coordinators organized interviewers to conduct virtual mock interviews with students. Even prior to COVID, virtual interviews were taking place for candidates who were not in the area. The skill of being able to successfully participate in a virtual interview is a life skill for future success.
- Virtual Career Conversations—One way to help students learn about various careers is to talk to people who are actually in those careers. Prior to the pandemic, Durham Public Schools scheduled face-to-face career conversations with various professionals among the different career clusters. Due to remote instruction, we were able to conduct these career conversations virtually and save those to reuse.
- Virtual Career Expo—Understanding the career opportunities in the local and regional areas is important for students to understand. Typically, each school invites professionals in to speak with students about career opportunities. Due to the pandemic and our district being in remote learning, we have provided a platform for students to virtually attend a career expo.
While this is not an exhaustive list of all the things that have been shifted in our current virtual environment, they are some of the ones that have been the most successful. We continue to be inventive and collaborate with other school districts who are doing the same work.