For many years now, I’ve taught career exploration and research to high school students. To say it can be a challenge for them to narrow the options to a career that is a great fit and also interesting to them would be an understatement. I’ve spent a lot of time searching for resources that make the journey of career research easy to understand and interesting for teenagers---and I’ve found it: VirtualJobShadow.
Anybody who has been a classroom teacher knows a basic requirement is ease of use. VirtualJobShadow’s career assessment tool is so easy that a freshman can use it. Imagine my delight when I didn’t have to define words to help the students complete the assessment. Emojis on a likert-type scale make this tool both engaging for teenagers and easy to understand. Everything in the social-media world of our students uses these same emojis, so there is little room for confusion.
The easy-to-understand format continues in the results for the career assessment tools. My beginner classes completed the Career Clusters Interest Survey (CCIS) and quickly received an easy to understand ranking of the clusters for which they demonstrated the strongest interest and aptitudes. By simply clicking on each title, students were able to quickly get more information about available careers in each cluster, along with job-shadow-type videos showing them typical duties for the career. During the past few years, our students have quickly moved into a video-oriented learning world. They don’t search for information about how to do something, they start their search at YouTube. The short, concise videos are well-produced and provide important details anyone in a job search needs to understand about the duties and responsibilities of the position. This set-up also makes it easy to check out related careers, not just the recommended one, as well as explore other career clusters.
Another feature that I love is the filter option. Students can narrow their results based on a variety of factors, including the education level required for the career. So many of our students feel pressured to enroll in a four-year university after high school but, let’s be real, that kind of route is not for everyone. The filter feature allows students to explore careers within the cluster that interests them while also taking educational requirements into account.
Like I said, for years I’ve been teaching this topic to students. After the assessment and exploration, it always seems logical to explore where they can receive the career training. There’s a feature for that, too, and students can build their own database of colleges, job searches and favorite careers---even goal setting tools are included.
It’s like somebody read my mind and figured out exactly how I teach this content and then created the online tool that I needed to help my students really think about what career options will be best for them and provided options for them to gain real information to help my students make the kind of choice that will lead them to a satisfying, productive, contributing life as a member of our society.
VirtualJobShadow.com provides career exploration for K-12, post-secondary institutions and workforce development programs nationwide. It is used throughout the country for career readiness and planning in school districts, colleges, career centers and workforce agencies, offering an interactive, practical approach with multiple resources for work-based learning and career planning.
About The Author
Tracey Eatherton has been teaching Family and Consumer Sciences at Ste. Genevieve High School in Missouri for twenty-one years and is a dual credit instructor for Mineral Area College. Before that, she taught for five years at Advance Jr/Sr High School in Advance, Missouri. She has two sweet daughters (most of the time) and a dog. They like to hang out in the backyard (weather permitting) and she recently completed her doctorate degree with her dissertation research in the area of technology-based professional development for secondary teachers.