Understanding the New Vision for Career Development: The Role of Family
Understanding “Career Development"
Phase 1: Self-exploration
- taking career interest assessments;
- taking personal interest assessments;
- identifying the student’s learning style;
- identifying the student’s communication style;
- exploring how others see the student;
- learning about the goal-setting process;
- identifying strengths; and
- visiting museums, theatres, or community landmarks.
Phase 2: Career Exploration
- identify how their interests, strengths, and values relate to careers of interest;
- describe the skills and activities associated with those careers; and
- identify the training and educational requirements needed to successfully pursue those careers.
- informational interviews with employers;
- career-related guest speakers;
- workplace visits and tours;
- job shadowing;
- career fairs and career days;
- career camps;
- hands-on career projects; and
- career-focused mentoring.
- Communicate the expectation that their youth will become employed. Youth are more likely to be motivated to explore possible careers if their families have high expectations that they will be successful.
- Learn about career preparation activities offered in school, how student progress is evaluated, and how this information is shared with the family.
- Help support their son or daughter in exploring a wide range of career options by visiting businesses in the community, job shadowing, speaking to family and friends, or bringing him or her to visit their own place of employment.
- Investigate quality websites that offer a range of tools that help youth learn about jobs.
- Encourage youth to not only explore interesting careers, including those they may not have previously considered, but also to learn about the education and skills required for those careers.
- Use connections from social and professional networks to help identify real world opportunities for youth to explore careers.
- For youth receiving special education services, make sure the IEP contains meaningful, measurable activities around career exploration. Help youth create a long-term transition goal that reflects their intent to be employed in a particular field or to pursue postsecondary education related to their chosen career.
- Look for opportunities to introduce youth to adults with jobs that are in their field of interest or in the range of their own experience. For example, a youth with a disability may be motivated by observing an adult with a disability in the workplace.
Phase 3: Career Planning and Management
- acquire job search skills;
- build career readiness skills; and
- develop traits, work habits, and behaviors that allow them to be effective in the workplace, and to continually seek new work opportunities, therefore maximizing employability.
- Job search skills: Obtaining employment often requires youth to plan, practice, and follow the standard job seeking process. These skills include writing resumes andcover letters, searching for job openings, and developing interview techniques. Usingsocial, academic, and professional networks are additional ways youth can find opportunities and research companies of interest. Youth with disabilities also need to understand how and when to disclose a disability to an employer. The services available to youth with disabilities, such as vocational rehabilitation, or to youth generally,such as the Department of Labor’s youth programs, can be a particular asset in the job search process. Youth with disabilities use the services to practice interviewing, learning about professional dress,and getting connected to other resources they need to get a job.
- Youth development and leadership: Youth development, the process of growing up and developing one’s skills, happens no matter what we do. The challenge for families and other caring adults is to promote positive youth development and plan quality experiences with young people. Positive youth development engages youth within their communities, schools, organizations, peer groups, and families in a way that recognizes, uses, and improves youths’ strengths. Such experiences ultimately lead to purposeful, confident goal setting that prepares the youth to meet the challenges of adulthood, which can often include making difficult decisions about one’s career. Positive youth development experiences lay the groundwork for positive long-term outcomes for young people by providing opportunities, building relationships, and furnishing the support needed to build on their leadership skills. Youth leadership can take place through formal programs, informal participation in school clubs and activities, or community involvement. With these activities, youth with disabilities may have the opportunity to practice self-advocacy skills that can be critical to their success in the workplace in activities such as requesting accommodations, determining jobtasks, and negotiating promotions.
- Soft Skills: Success in the workplace often entails being able to adhere to certain social and interpersonal rules. Most employees navigate these workplace rules by using soft skills – communication, team work, problem solving, networking, enthusiasm, and professionalism. Youth who lack soft skills may struggle with getting along with co-workers, taking direction from others, showing up to work on time, or maintaining an appropriate appearance. Youth need to understand the important role of soft skills and be given opportunitiesto build skills in communication, teamwork, and problem-solving.
- Work-based learning: Interest in employment or in specific careers needs to be cultivated by exposing youth to actual work experiences. These opportunities may include career awareness activities or field trips in elementary or middle school. In high school, work-based learning experiences should become more in-depth, offering youth opportunities for internships or school-based entrepreneurial projects. Paid work experiences are particularly important as research shows that the strongest indicator of future adult employment is paid work experience in high school. Youth with disabilities can also use this time to explore vocational rehabilitation as a possible work-related support or supported employment. They also need to consider what, if any, job accommodations they may need. Students who engage in work-based learning have a deeper understanding about careers and are able to set goals based on their interests and real world experiences.
- Financial Literacy: Students should determine how much money they need toearn to be self-sufficient and also learn how to develop their financial goals. Financial literacy skills can also set the stage for a lifetime of responsible money management.
- career search confidence and advocacy;
- academic confidence and advocacy;
- connection with peers;
- management of academic stress;
- management of distress;
- academic motivation; and
- interpersonal connection with teachers.
- Investigate community programs and school activities that provide youth with opportunities to obtain hands-on work experience and practice soft skills.
- Find out if their son or daughter’s school offers access to a career information system and whether the youth is engaged in Individualized Learning Plan (ILP) activities. These systems contain an electronic portfolio for documenting youth career readiness activities, skills, and accomplishments. Alternatively, online resume and portfolio systems, such as LinkedIn, can also allow users to document their skills, accomplishments, and certifications/credentials.
- Use common activities in the home, like making dinner, grocery shopping, or doing chores to build work skills and soft skills (see Resources section for NCWD/Youth Info Briefs for tips).
- Have discussions with their son or daughter about work ethic and on-the-job expectations. Reinforce these conversations by holding high expectations for school work and behavior at home.
- Assist their youth with a disability in exploring employment supports. These options may include Vocational Rehabilitation, community providers of supported employment and independent living, and the local American Jobs Center (http://jobcenter.usa.gov/).
- Help youth with disabilities understand the impact of employment opportunities on their benefits, such as Social Security and Medicaid benefits.
- Help their youth draft a resume listing job skills, paid and unpaid work experiences, and a strong rationale for wanting to work in a certain industry.
- For youth with disabilities, participate in the development of the Summary of Performance (SOP) within their son or daughter’s IEP. Make sure the school has documented career and work-based learning experiences, as well as recommendations for support needs beyond high school.
Work-Based Learning Experiences (used with permission from the Minnesota Department of Education.)
- Tours Students take part in employer-led tours of sites which provides students with information on requirements of different jobs.
- Job Shadowing Students make brief worksite visits to spend time with individual workers to learn what their jobs entail.
- Rotations Students work in a number of different departments or for different employers to explore different occupations within an industry cluster.
- Mentoring Students are paired with “adult peers” from the workplace who provide guidance and encouragement on career-related, interdisciplinary projects.
- Entrepreneurship Students create an alternate work program, are their own boss, earn money, create a project, run their business, and earn high school credit.
- Service Learning Students participate in unpaid work, geared to the public good, integrated with school learning through projects or similar mechanisms.
- Internships/Co-Op Students participate in paid work experience with employer, school coordinator and student agreeing to follow training plan. Students take vocational and work related classes at school.
- Youth Apprenticeship The integration of academic instruction and work-based learning. The student commits to one or two years of paid work experience in a specific trade and is registered as a youth apprentice.
Individualized Learning Plans: Lending Structure to the Process
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