Career Development Planning: Getting Students on the Right Track

Article excerpt

CAREER DEVELOPMENT IS DEFINED AS "THE PROCESS of establishing career objectives and determining appropriate educational and developmental programs to further develop the skills required to achieve short- or long-term career objectives," according to HR Management. BusinessDictionary.com notes that career development also includes identifying "marketable skills, strengths and weaknesses, etc., as a part of one's career management." Assisting students in developing a career path is often missing within our schools. Many students graduate from high school without a plan for their future careers; others possess a definite plan, but as they pursue it, they realize it does not support their interests and aptitudes. To continue, countless others focus on a subject area that requires additional preparation to obtain a well-paying job. Each one of these scenarios can lead to disappointment and/or frustration in the future, not to mention financial challenges. In many instances, students continue to flounder, dabbling in careers that lead to dissatisfaction. It is important that parents and school staff assist students to discover their strengths and propensities to set them on a path moving in the right course for a desired career.

Linking People to the Right Careers

Career and technical education (CTE) classes provide the impetus to direct students to an appropriate career. Enrollment in CTE programs grant students the opportunity to obtain a head start on developing their careers compared to students who are not enrolled in CTE programs. The Association for Career and Technical Education in the recent paper, "What is Career Ready?" (2010), expounded on what it means for students to be equipped for a profession.

"Career readiness includes core academic skills and the ability to apply those skills to concrete situations in order to function in the workplace and in routine daily activities, employability skills essential in any career area, such as critical thinking and responsibility, and technical, job-specific skills related to a specific career pathway."

This statement summarizes the goal parents and educators should have for every student.

The Career Planning Process

The process of career planning should begin formally in middle school. Both parents and guidance counselors play an important rule supporting students in discovering their strengths and talents (Turner and Lapan, 2002). To assist students in discerning their career interests, several resources are available. These can be in the form of assessment tools, books and school-sponsored career activities that include industry speakers and job-shadow experiences. One of the most utilized career development theories is John Holland's Theory of Career Choice. His theory outlines six personality types that help to determine career choices. They include:

* Realistic--work with hands, machines, tools, are active, practical, adventurous

* Investigative--thoughtful, analytical, they explorer, seek knowledge, ideas, not social

* Artistic--literary, musical, artistic, emotional, creative, open

* Social--they train, inform, educate, are helpful, supportive, avoid technical skills, are empathetic, relationship-oriented

* Enterprising--verbally skilled, persuasive, direct, leader, dominant

* Conventional--oriented to rules and routines, provide order or direct structure, great self-control, respect power and status, punctual, orderly

Helping students to identify the personality type that most represents them, utilizing Holland's tool, can be the initial step for career planning. …