Research suggests that by engaging in self-exploration, career exploration, and career planning and management activities, students perceive the relevance of how courses in high school and college connect to self-defined career and life goals. For the many youth who enter high school with a history of low academic performance, access to these activities are especially critical because research has clearly indicated that when low performing students perceive the relevance of a course to their future goals, they achieve better grades and report more interest in the course.
Career assessment is a component of self-exploration, however not all types of career assessment lend themselves to self-exploration. The types of assessment tools used for self-exploration should enable youth to examine their interests, skills, and values and to evaluate career possibilities in terms of whether the occupations match these interests, skills, and values. Career assessments should not be used to dissuade a youth from a particular career pathway or program; the intent is to develop their awareness of various options, not to narrow their options. The type of career assessment tool commonly used for self-exploration is the career interest inventory.
This Innovative Strategies Practice Brief provides practical examples and resources used by promising and exemplary youth programs to conduct career interest inventories with youth. Youth programs featured in the brief have been recognized by NCWD/Youth as Innovative Strategies featuring workforce development programs and practices that serve youth with disabilities, either as a target population or as part of other youth populations.