Merced Union High School District

By Marie Bartlett, Staff Writer, February 21, 2017 Proves Successful in the Classroom


Ninth graders in the Merced Union High School District (MUHSD), located in the central San Joaquin Valley of California, are benefiting from a growing trend in career education nationwide, thanks to forward-thinking educators who chose to implement and utilize in their classrooms. The diverse district is comprised of six high schools and four alternative education schools, serving nearly 10,000 students.


Last fall, as part of their new Freshman Seminar Course (Career Explorations), the district selected as their primary career planning tool.


“Our district liked the product and so we purchased it,” explains Constantino Aguilar, Executive Director of Technology and Innovation Educational Services for the school district. “Career Technology Education (CTE) is critical so our students can prepare for their future. Career exploration is also important so students can discover in high school what they want to do in the future.” 


Freshman students enrolled in the Seminar course use to explore many different career fields spanning sixteen career clusters. The product’s day-in-the-life videos provide a practical approach that allows students to virtually experience job shadowing, without leaving the classroom.


Career Exploration and Planning: When to Begin?


Many school counselors agree that career planning should begin in freshman year. While it’s true younger students often have no idea what they want to do, or find they can’t settle on one career at this age, it’s important to explore a variety of careers in order to determine if their interest levels and skill sets are a match. Also, they should be exposed to the idea that certain careers that don’t even exist today could be in high demand in the future, particularly in the fields of specialized technology.


“With, our students get to see real jobs that are realistic and not outdated, showcasing many different occupations,” says Aguilar. “Most importantly, they can now leave high school with a career plan.”


One Classroom’s Approach


Gil Hassen, ninth grade teacher at Golden Valley High School in the Merced Union High School District, says he was initially drawn to by its high quality, engaging job shadowing videos.


He spent a year of planning and organizing career exploration curriculum with preliminary work that included selecting the right materials and designing activities to spur interest in career planning for students. Once the foundation was in place, the district found the ideal resource:, a comprehensive career exploration program that provides career readiness and planning for school districts and colleges throughout the country.


 “The survey tools integrated to the platform allow students to identify their primary clusters of career interests,” he says. “These tools are easy to access with easy-to-understand results.”


 For extension activities, he had them research colleges and universities that provide certifications and degrees in their field of interest.


To date, has been incredibly effective, according to the school district, particularly since its mission is to enable students to explore their career interests. In the month of January alone, MUHSD students watched over seven hundred hours of job shadowing videos while exploring careers on  Results like these support the district’s goals to ensure their students are both college and career-ready once they leave high school.


“ is a superb information source for those seeking information about career choices,” Hassen concludes.


Career Exploration and Planning: Follow Our Roadmap


For educators looking to provide students with more direction to discover their careers of interest, follow our 4-step Career Exploration Roadmap.


Step One: Discover Your Passion helps students discover their career interests and work values with three career assessments. The assessment results link directly to career fields that give students a great way to launch their career exploration process.


Step Two: Choose Your Direction


Knowledge is power when choosing an exciting, meaningful career. Our engaging job shadowing videos give young people great perspective about the educational and skill level requirements of each career. Students can use real world advice from professionals across many different career fields to gain a much better understanding of the world of work.


Step Three: Prepare for Success


Once career interests are identified, the finish line is in sight. Using our integrated tools and resources, students can now map their educational and career goals to help determine their next steps. 


Step Four:  Achieve Your Dreams


This final step helps students implement their plan and adapt when things get challenging. Making any dream a reality requires determination, hard work and flexibility. brings real world advice from professionals in the workforce who have experienced their own challenges and developed strategies to overcome them.



About Us

At we recognize that planning ahead for any career path is a process; one that should begin prior to high school. A student’s exposure and interest in a career could impact the academic trajectory they take throughout their high school years. Click here to learn about our complete suite of career exploration features. is used throughout the country for career readiness and career planning in K-12 districts, colleges, career centers and workforce agencies.



Sources Cited
Merced Union High School District, online interviews and website, 2/15/17
National Career Development, “The ABC’s of Career Exploration and Planning for High School Students,” developed by Junior Achievement, 2004 “Career Planning Checklist,” 2015; U.S. Department of Education, Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Career Planning for High Schoolers,” January, 2015.

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