Career Development is a Process

Let’s think about this.  A career is something to which most people will devote around forty years of their life.  It not only provides individuals with the income to meet their standard of living, but it is also the identifier by which that most people describe themselves.  So why don’t we as educators spend more time exposing students to the myriad of career opportunities available to them, along with the required training, to help them achieve the dreams they have for their lives?  Instead, in many instances, it is a quick decision many students make with false information or choose due to mandated graduation credits.  

As Career and Technology Education (CTE) professionals, the decision for a student to step into our school or classroom and learn a trade or choose coursework for post-secondary education success should be a process that has been discussed and planned prior to their enrollment date.  Career development should be just that; a development process that includes more than the training of knowledge and skills to be successful in their chosen career that will consume the next few decades of their life.  I would argue that successful career development discussions should begin at the upper elementary or middle school level, and provide students the time and opportunities to explore the multitude of career options available.  Career decisions should be a choice that has been deliberated, and made as part of an enrollment process. 

To be clear, I don’t expect my ten-year-old son to decide his exact college major or chosen CTE program before his next birthday, but intentional discussions are taking place during his elementary and middle school years concerning interests, strengths, and what type of lifestyle he would like to have someday.  If CTE instructors, counselors, and administrators will work alongside the K12 schools within their district to provide career exploration opportunities as a part of their educational activities, students will have the knowledge to make better decisions in regard to career choices.  Then when they arrive on our campuses as sophomores or juniors, they are more focused and motivated to learn the knowledge and skills to become successful in their future career. 

Career development is a process.  It is a decision that should be made over time and through career exploration experiences.  Educators at all levels must work together to ensure this is a seamless process to help ensure career success for our students.