For Parents/Guardians & Educators

You're here because you're helping your child or student make decisions on their career and employment future. Click through the resources on this page to learn why you should and how you can help.

For Parents/Guardians & Educators

Learn what your role is in your child’s career planning and how you can help.
As an adult and a parent/guardian, you can describe how you made the choices you did on your employment and career path. You know what influenced you and what motivated you. Your child will be facing some big decisions on what they will do once they enter the world of work. Your support and encouragement will be incredibly important and influential, regardless of whether or not your child is ready to begin thinking about career options.

A good starting point is to share your advice and experiences. Your child may not be that interested in your story, or they might think that you can’t relate to their situation. But it’s important to get the conversation going, and don’t stop there. It’s also important to learn about career opportunities as your child learns. Your child likely has different interests, and different experiences, that might lead them in a direction you’re not familiar with. It’s also important to be aware of what your child is or will be going through as they make decisions related to their professional future.

Use this website, and this section specifically, to learn what career exploration will mean for your child. Talk about your child’s interests and future goals and participate in their exploration. You directly influence your child’s work values and attitudes. By encouraging and supporting your child’s career exploration, you will help them prepare for the next step, set goals, reach milestones, and ultimately experience career success.
Start early.
Career planning is a process that is unique to each person. Career awareness should ultimately start at a young age, while your child is in elementary school or middle school. This probably seems really early! This doesn’t mean your child needs to know what they will do. But, learning about jobs in the community and understanding that they will enter the workforce one day are the first steps in being prepared.

Explore, even if your child’s interests change.
In middle school, your child should start exploring their interests and abilities and begin thinking about how they connect to careers. Of course we all know that your child’s interests will change over time—sometimes drastically. But, this is a good starting place, and is actually an activity your child will continue through high school and the entire career planning process. We also know that youth may have ideas of what they want to do that are improbable—professional athlete is a perfect example. Kids can and should dream about what to do when they get older and strive to reach any goals they have. But we know that it’s likely they will end up doing something else. What all of this tells us is that children are uninformed on careers, and it points to why career exploration is so important.

Learn about occupations with your child.
In high school, your child will start taking interest and career assessments. These assessments will help them learn about different career options based on their interests, values, and personality. They will also start to learn more about occupations. (Note that a job is different than an occupation, and both are different than a career. Make sure to take a look at the information in this section on the difference between these three terms.) Your child will learn about wages, education requirements, skills, and other occupation details and match those details with their interests and goals.

Be involved as your child plans for and takes action for the future.
As your child identifies occupations they are interested in, it will be time to start thinking about how to get the education and qualifications needed to work in that occupation. Your child will start to plan what to do after graduation, whether it be continuing their education, entering the workforce immediately, or choosing a different path. This is a critical time to support your child. They may need guidance and help in making choices, setting goals, and preparing a plan of action. You may need to assist and encourage your child in:

Creating a timeline for high school
Selecting high school coursework
Being involved in activities or employment outside of school
Understanding graduation requirements
Being aware of college admissions requirements
Learning about other options such as apprenticeship, the military, or service-related programs

This is also a great time to start talking to your child about budgeting and finances and long-term career success. Career decisions ultimately involve evaluating three things—job satisfaction, lifestyle, and money. Your child doesn’t have experience that helps them understand this, but you probably do. Talk with your child about how these three things work together to determine satisfaction in career choices.

One thing to remember is that career planning is a process that takes time and effort. It can also be stressful if your child is unsure what they want to do or is reluctant to make such big decisions. Two of the most important ways you can support your child is by talking with them about interests, goals, and dreams and how they connect to careers and by discussing the importance of planning for the future.
  1. Learn about careers with them. Use this site to learn about career options with your child. Go through the tools with them and talk about the results. It’s important that your child has as much information as possible on occupations they might be interested in.
  2. Talk about your child’s interests, likes, dislikes, and values. Many people don’t realize it, but one of the biggest parts of career exploration and planning is self-evaluation. Get your child to think about what inspires them, what they’re good at, and what they want by asking them. As you listen, realize that your child is listening to and learning also.
  3. Let your child dream. We all know that dreams aren’t always as realistic as we would like, but letting your child think big about what they want will ultimately help them narrow their interests down to something attainable. If your child can start from a point of excitement they are going to be more motivated about the future and its possibilities.
  4. Help them set goals and take action. Encourage your child to write down goals to help them turn broad dreams into practical action.
  5. Help them create and follow a plan. Children can be distracted by what’s going on in life now and struggle to stay focused on what they need to do for the future. They often don’t have the experience to see how important planning can be for their ultimate success. Create a plan with your child and remind and encourage them to stick to it. Revisit the plan with your child as their interests change.
Learn how to navigate this site and get the most out of its tools and resources.
This site has four main sections—Career Exploration, Education and Training, The Job Search, and Gain Experience. The first time your student or child visits the site, they should begin by going into Career Exploration.

Career Exploration
Use Career Exploration to get your student or child started on their career planning.

Career Exploration is the jumping-off-point for all kids and is where they will actually start exploring careers. It includes tools they can use to assess interests, explore career options, and plan next steps.

Education and Training
Use Education and Training to show your student or child how to make decisions on their education and prepare for education after high school.

Education and Training provides information and tools to help them make a decision on the education they want or need after high school. The section also has great information on what to expect when preparing and applying for colleges and training programs and how to budget for and finance education.

Gain Experience
Use Gain Experience to educate your student or child on other career options.

Gain Experience provides information related to other career paths, such as volunteering with the Peace Corps, going into an apprenticeship program, joining the military, or starting a business (entrepreneurship).

The Job Search
Use The Job Search to educate your student or child on how to successfully look for and apply for jobs.

The Job Search gives easy access to tips, tools, and information on the job search process and how to get hired. They will learn what they need to do to apply for a job, promote their abilities, and navigate the application process.

Your student or child doesn’t need to have an account to use the tools within the website, but by having an account, they can save their activity and information. This means they won’t have to reenter information or remember what activities they did the last time they were on the site.

The student account also:
  1. Lets your student or child save information specific to them, such as assessment results, answers to interview questions, résumés, and much more!
  2. Allows your student or child to save occupations, education institutions, jobs, and interests. They can revisit their saved activity at any time to see additional information.
  3. Is completely private. Your student’s or child’s information is protected and not shared with anyone. The account simply allows them to save their progress within the different tools so they can easily revisit the information later on.
  4. Is a great resource to help your student or child with their career planning. With their information saved, you can work with them side-by-side and provide advice, support, and help as you go along.
The dashboard is your student’s (or child’s) customized activity center. In the dashboard, your student can measure the progress they’ve made in the site by using its tools. This is where your student will see the occupations, education institutions, scholarships, jobs, and interests they’ve saved while navigating the site. This is also where your student can revisit the tools they’ve used and see or change their results.

The dashboard will provide you with an overview of your student’s activity and interests and ultimately help you guide and support their exploration and the activities that will prepare them for their future.
The resources available in this site are useful for people of all ages. While the site is targeted for high school and college youth, it has resources for middle school-age youth as well.
The first place to start when using this site with middle schoolers is the Into the Future: Middle School Students section. This page includes text for middle school youth on what Career Exploration is and why they should explore careers now. It’s a good introduction for students who have never thought about career exploration before.
The key section to visit with middle schoolers is the Career Exploration section. Career Exploration is where students can start learning about different occupations and career options. The section has several tools that help youth learn about their interests, occupations they may have never even heard of, and how to prepare for their future. The interactive tools are easily navigable for the middle school age group.

The remaining sections have supplemental information that can be used when working with middle schoolers on career planning. Middle school students are often not to the point of making education or job decisions yet, but they can start learning about what it takes to prepare for school or work. The Education & Training and Job Search sections have information such as how to prepare for college and what to know about job applications and interviews. The Gain Experience section has information related to other types of career paths, like volunteerism, apprenticeship, the military, and entrepreneurship.
Middle school youth can also create an account. While an account isn’t necessary for accessing all of the resources the site has to offer, an account allows the student to save their activity. This is really helpful when working with students over time on their career planning.
See other resources for you and your child or student on career planning.
Internships | Students Work is the central online hub linking students and job seekers to employers offering career experience opportunities, including internships. Students can use Internships | Students Work to browse opportunities, prepare application materials, apply for internships, and connect with employers. Visit Internship | Students Work today!