Career Exploration

Career Exploration in Middle School: Helping Students Dream Big, While Giving Them The Tools To Succeed

Students today are both excited and nervous about their life after high school. While still dreaming of what the future may hold, they must also map out a future for themselves that is both in line with their career interests and their educational expectations. That’s why cultivating a student’s understanding of their career aspirations and making certain that their educational goals are aligned with their career objectives are vital to a student’s long-term success. Career exploration is the cornerstone of this process, and research suggests that middle school is the most effective time for career guidance to occur. Evidence shows that career guidance works; it is associated with both positive educational and employment outcomes, keeps students engaged in school, and allows them to develop a better sense of self. As we encourage students to dream about their futures, we must give them the knowledge and tools to succeed and support the interventions that have proved benefits. Middle school career exploration is one of those interventions.

Key Findings

  • Having career aspirations linked to an educational goal impacts the likelihood that a student will achieve his or her goals
  • Career exploration plays an important role in the process by allowing students to gain knowledge about their interests and skills as well as the career pathways available
  • Research finds that middle school is the most effective time for career guidance programs.
  • Middle school students are already thinking about their futures and are open to career exploration. They want information that can help them match their specific skills and interests with potential careers
  • Career education works; career education is associated with positive educational and employment outcomes