Great Advice For Students' Summer Vacation


School vacation is a great time for students to become exposed to the responsibilities of the workplace, sharpen their people skills and get a glimpse of career possibilities.
Elementary School Age:  Too young for a “real” job is no excuse to postpone the exploration of interests that could point to career direction. Free or low cost programs offered through rec centers, libraries, schools and colleges offer exposure to a wide variety of subjects. Parents can encourage conversations about career possibilities, and arrange for friends and family to expose children to the workplace by job shadowing. Counselors might encourage students to create a scrapbook about a chosen job, to bring back to school in the fall. For more good ideas read The 25 Best Summer Jobs for 10 Year Olds in 2016.

Middle School Age: Many middle school kids are mature enough to start working. Volunteer programs give back to the community while exposing youngsters to the rigors and responsibilities of a real job. Paid jobs include babysitting, yard work, dog walking, car washing, tutoring, or crafting and selling their own goods. The article, Young teen's dilemma: too old for camp, too young to work, shares some good ideas.

High School Age:  These kids have reached an age where they can start holding down real jobs in offices, retail stores, restaurants, etc. Many businesses offer internships to high school students. Colleges hold summer programs, where they can investigate majors and maybe even earn college credit. And, with thanks to Nicole Dieker, here are 100 Fun and Lucrative Summer Jobs for Teens.

Here's a promising site for teen job seekers:

 Also, search Pinterest: “Summer Jobs for Teens” – it’s the mother lode!

Tips For Parents About Career Advice

My loving and well-meaning parents were way off when it came to career direction.

Probably because the local doctor had everyone’s respect and an expensive car with MD plates that allowed him to park in restricted areas, I was raised to be a physician.

I was given a chemistry set, junior doctor kit, and constant brainwashing about the benefits that would come my way with the coveted M.D. title. I entered college as a pre-med student, and piled on advanced biology, chemistry and physics courses. I joined a pre-med group that visited hospitals and even got to watch some surgeries.

But two years into the process, I wasn’t liking a lot about my career path. Not the unbending rigidity of the sciences, the constant academic pressures and certainly not Mrs. Kramer’s gall bladder surgery that I witnessed much too close-up.

One of the courses I was taking at the time (to lighten my load) was American Theater. It was everything pre-med was not. Creative, free-flowing, fun! I joined the Drama Club, added humanities courses and changed my focus completely. Eventually I graduated with an English major and have enjoyed a successful career as a media writer/producer since.

From the perspective of adulthood, I now recognize that clues to my career satisfaction had been there from a very early age. I had enjoyed my camera much more than the chemistry set, and a good book intrigued me in a way the junior doctor kit never did. But my overcrowded and understaffed urban schools had few resources for career education, so adult guidance came only from the well-intentioned parents who had planned my future to match their dreams rather than my reality.

I developed The Career Game to give students, educators and parents a simple, enjoyable way to investigate how a student’s individuality fits into the world of work. Educators have the training to do their part but most parents do not, so some might appreciate a few ideas for helping their kids with this important process. Many of these practices can begin as early as elementary school, while others can be added age-appropriately as students grow in comprehension and experience. You can get the list HERE.



P.S. Some of these suggestions assume the student has online access to our sites via the PIN numbers that were assigned to your order. If that is not your situation, you can omit all references to The Career Game, and still offer parents some good ideas.

I would love to hear about your career journey!

  • Did you know what you wanted to do early on?
  • Did your parents play a helpful role in career guidance?
  • How well did your teachers prepare you for your adult career?

Please share your story in the comment box below.

Cross-Curricular Teamwork

brook-aliciaThere are mix-and-match applications of The Career Game for grades 5 through 12. Here’s one creative Internet + classroom technique developed and implemented by counselor Brook McCoy in partnership with 5th grade teacher Alicia Goings of Holmes Elementary School in Wilmington Ohio.

These activities are a near-perfect application of the ASCA’s Mindsets & Behaviors for Student Success, as well as many other ELA and SS standards.

The counselor was involved in just one class session, with follow-up activities led by the classroom teacher over the next several weeks.

In her own words:
Brook McCoy, Counselor
One of my responsibilities is to promote career education. In addition, our entire 5th grade also covers a unit of career education in their social studies class. So, Mrs. Goings (Social Studies teacher) and I joined forces to find, create and implement a meaningful and useful career educational experience for our 5th grade students. We wanted something fun, engaging, enlightening and motivating - good luck, right?

I spent some time researching and came across various resources, lesson plans, and interest inventories.  While I found a lot of good information I was still looking for something that would engage, connect and interlock the gap between career education and student ‘buy in’…… then I came across The Career Game.  Within minutes, for a cost of only 59 cents each, I was able to purchase an interactive online career portal for every 5th grade student in our building. The students logged in and away they went!

5th-gradeThe interactive Career Game experience for our 5th graders was a blast! Our students, on a day to day basis, tackle many social, emotional and educational challenges, as well as rigorous school work and lessons. It was so much fun to intermingle and watch them get excited about learning!  The Career Game personalized each student’s experience and allowed them access to a plethora of career knowledge!

Thanks to The Career Game Online our students are now excited about career education as well as knowledgeable about career expectations and opportunities!

In her own words:
Alicia Goings – 5th Grade Teacher

First, Mrs. McCoy came in and introduced the concept of matching personality to careers. She modeled how to navigate the site and use the options offered. The rest took place over several sessions with our 5th grade students:  

My Learning Goal: Workers can improve their ability to earn income by gaining new knowledge, skills and experiences.

My Learning Target: Identify a career of interest and research the knowledge, skills and experiences required.

After students completed the online interest inventory, they were given a chance to explore the careers that were suggested for them. The tabs on the site made it easy for them to sift through the features of the matching jobs. Students were then instructed to choose one career that sounded interesting and answer the following sentence stems:  What is the definition of the career? What are the duties? What education is needed? What is the work environment? 

The website was so well organized that students were able use the similarly worded tabs to easily find this information. It was a great lesson in researching. I then asked them to write a three paragraph essay covering these points: What would you do while working at this job? What education would you need? Where could you work? What qualities are needed for this job and what qualities of yours would make you good at it?

View a few condensed excerpts from the essays they wrote

The students then made trioramas from construction paper. These had to be decorated on the back as well as have 3D objects that showed some important aspect of their chosen career. They also had to include one natural resource, capital resource, and human resource. Index cards were included that could either describe the career or persuade that this was an important, exciting job.


The completed project was displayed for the entire school to see:

For the culminating activity, a panel of professionals was invited to school for a visit.  The students peppered them with questions they had prepared in class earlier, took notes on what was said, and wrote short essays on what they had learned.

Again, we cannot put into words how invaluable these sessions were. The text features made the introduction to web-based research easy, and the teaching tasks easy and a pleasure.  Our students were totally engaged with the information, and all the discussion amongst themselves opened up a world of possibilities to those who had limited knowledge.  So, as Brook wrote earlier:

“We wanted something fun, engaging, enlightening and motivating - good luck, right?  Well, our luck was good, because that’s exactly what we got from The Career Game!”

Brook McCoy, School Counselor
Alicia Goings, 5th Grade Teacher
Holmes Elementary School
Wilmington, Ohio

Did this article give you any fresh ideas? If you are a counselor, have you ever coordinated any lessons with classroom teachers? Are you a teacher who has coordinated lessons with counselors? Please share your experience in the comments below.


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Motivation by Goal

Helping an unmotivated student can be like pushing on a string.   
The student with an "I don't know and couldn't care less" attitude can wear you out. Your best shot at nudging this kid off dead center might be to help him/her find a goal to pursue
"It's a scientific fact that people with goals are happier and achieve more."  

Research cited in Psychology Today found that achieving a goal produces dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of pleasure. And reciprocally, dopamine activates neural circuitry that makes one eager to pursue new challenges. Organizational psychologists Locke and Latham compiled evidence from more than 1,000 studies proving that goals that spell out exactly what needed to be accomplished resulted in far superior performance than generic goals like "trying to do your best." The reason: more focused goals create an unconscious increase in effort and commitment, persist longer and make better use of the most effective strategies. 

With no plan for the future, a student can tend to drift, sometimes into real trouble. A career goal provides a measuring stick for progress, bolsters self-esteem and increases commitment, which some students need most of all. Here's a true story we're proud to share: 
A floundering student was ready to quit school as soon as he could. All he wanted to do was hunt and fish. His counselor provided him with access to The Career Game site, where he discovered his personality and interests were a strong match for the job of Forest Ranger, a goal that had never entered his mind. He researched that job right there on our site, sent away for information, and eventually finished the required education for that career. In less than twenty minutes this student turned his life completely around and is now enjoying a rewarding career with the US Park Service. The cost? Less  than $1.00! 

Here are some easy steps to help your students set a career goal:

  • Complete an Interest Inventory that matches personality to actual careers.

You can find a variety of inexpensive workbook, CD-ROM and Internet techniques on our products pages. There are more costly and complicated interest inventories, but The Career Game format excels because it’s simple and quick, and offers counselors the choice of being involved in the process a lot, a little, or even not at all.  Our self-scoring workbooks can be used with or without computer follow-up.  Internet techniques can be used from school or home, and are optimized for desktops, laptops, tablets and even smartphones. They can involve parents as well. Students love to match their hobbies, heroes and favorites to a list of attractive career options. We'll give them a wide range of attractive possibilities at different educational levels.  When they find something that resonates, here's an action plan you can copy and offer:

  • Put your career goal in writing.

Writing it down is a strong motivator.  Be specific. Use action verbs. Specify completion dates. Record your reward for achieving the goal. Knowing exactly what you will gain is a strong motivator.

  • Make a list of challenges.

Think of everything that might stand in the way. Then decide what can be done about each obstacle. Design a plan to reduce the influence of each challenge and increase the chance for success in reaching your goal.

  • Identify sub-goals.

Break the plan into manageable chunks. Be specific about what has to be accomplished. Decide what you are going to do, and when. Make sure each step is achievable and you have a complete plan of action. Then review it regularly.

  • Learn what you need to learn.

If some information or a skill might keep you from achieving your goals, determine ways to fill those gaps and build them into your action plan. Be willing to study and work hard to reach your goals. Think about how much time and effort will be required, and ask yourself if you are willing and able to do what is necessary.

  • Enlist the help of others.

Look for role models, people who have already achieved the goals you seek to reach. Ask them for advice and suggestions. Find how they got where they are, and incorporate what you learn into your plan. Your counselor can help you stay committed and motivated.

  • Visualize yourself having achieved your goals.

Go through magazines and cut out articles and pictures that represent your goal.  Put them where you will see them often.  Provide constant reminders to yourself about what you're working towards. Describe your ideal life in the future. Write a few paragraphs describing where you are going, and how your life will be better as a result. Use the present tense as if it was happening right now. This is another way of making your vision real.

  • Reward yourself each step of the way.

Let yourself feel good about the plan you've made. Treat yourself to rewards that will give you a lift as you accomplish each sub-goal on your road to success.

How Soon Did You Know?

Hamster - FacebookWhen my daughter Kathy was 11 years old, her pet hamster Shirley became gravely ill. The veterinarian could sense that Kathy was not ready to give up on her pet, so he gave her these instructions: 

"Put Shirley on a heating pad -- give her this medicine every four hours -- but you need to be realistic -- this is a very weak hamster."

Kathy stayed up with Shirley all that night and the next one as well. On the third day a healthier hamster began spinning her wheel, and Kathy knew she wanted to become a veterinarian. Today, she is one, and loves it.
"Ah-Ha" moments like this happen to students every day, but unlike Kathy's, usually go unnoticed. I missed one myself. 

On my thirteenth birthday, my aunt gave me a camera.  At first I just took snapshots, but it soon became something more to me. I began to read about photography and blend images into stories. I wasn't crazy about school work, but with that camera I created photo essays that blew my teachers away. I didn't recognize the career clue at the time, but I grew up to become a filmmaker and writer.
When I ask friends to try to recall their own career clues, many can.  A few short examples:

A successful architect remembers his special attraction to Lincoln Logs.  An award-winning chef recalls the thrill of helping his mom prepare holiday dinners. 
An international airline pilot decorated her teenage room with travel posters. But, just like me, not one of these three recognized those early clues to their adult career satisfaction.  
Without realizing it, every student receives a similar stream of clues to a successful future. The things they enjoy and do well, their hobbies, heroes, and favorites, where they like to be, and where they don't.  We invite you to visit our home page for a sampling of multimedia techniques that simplify this process of self-discovery for students of all ages.

And .... how about you? How soon did you know?  What were your clues?  Do you have friends or relatives with interesting histories? I, along with many others would love to hear your story, so please take a moment to share it in the comments section below. 

Rick Trow
The Career Game

The Career Game uses a fun format to help students discover the career clues in their everyday lives.  This video will explain how.

The Career Game Video
To learn more about our inexpensive print and computer techniques for matching personality to career success, please visit our home page.