As I began my career in 2012 as an information technology educator in Montgomery, Alabama, I knew this was the career for me. After three years in the classroom, I felt the need to expand my expertise to reach many more students and I was hired as a career coach in 2015.
Though I often miss the classroom, there is nothing like working with thousands of students each year and seeing them grow into young men and women ready to take on this global society. My journey has been the most rewarding I could have never dreamed of.
Gaining self-awareness: Who am I?
The Kuder system is one of the resources I use in my career coaching sessions with middle school students. Kuder is changing mainstream career awareness opportunities for students in the K-12 and postsecondary sectors. Business/industry partners are urging K-12 and postsecondary entities to integrate career-based instruction to give students the real-world skills and experiences needed for the workplace.
On a daily basis, I incorporate Kuder Navigator® — which I access via the Alabama Career Planning System, powered by Kuder® — in my presentations as a career coach to make students aware of the many career options that await them.
Kuder allows students to assess themselves, interpret the results, and build on those findings toward a path for success.
The approaches that I use to better facilitate the Kuder platform are designed to help build students’ self-awareness:
- Participate in assessments that identify personal areas of interest.
- Analyze personal skills, interest, and abilities: Is this who I am?
- Discover career pathways: Review the 16 National Career Clusters® .
- Explore career options.
- Career Cube Activity (see lesson plan below).
- Career vs. Job Activity (see lesson plan below).
- Develop skills to pursue career decisions: Research the skills need for a particular career pathway.
Career Cube Activity (Independent Activity)
- Ask students to complete the six sides of the Career Cube for the career of their choice to do a Career Presentation Project.
- Have students create the cube by cutting out the diagram, folding it on the lines and taping or gluing it together. Ask students to:
- Name It: Name the career you have chosen.
- Describe It: Describe the skills needed.
- Associate It: What other careers use related skills?
- Compare It: Compare it to other careers.
- Apply It: List the career’s functions or purpose of the career.
- Analyze It: Discuss why you feel you would succeed in this career.
Career vs Job Activity (Group Activity)
- Ask students: what is the difference between a job and a career?
- Write definitions on the smartboard/blackboard and have the students write the definitions in their notebooks.
- Use a Venn diagram on the smartboard/blackboard to show the difference in a job and a career: provide a Venn diagram for the students to follow along with the teacher.
- Write job in the left circle, career in the right circle and the above circle both in the Venn diagram.
- Ask the class to name jobs and the teacher will write the jobs in the left circle: Ex. fast food cashier (a job)
- Ask the class to name careers and the teacher will write the careers in the corresponding circle: Ex. Lawyer (a career)
- Ask the class to think of a job and a career that could be both. Ex. Musician/Singer/Rapper (both a job and a career)
- Students will match the criteria for each classification of a job vs. career:
- Professional growth.
- Collecting experience.
- Competitive wages.
- Aligns with goals and beliefs.
- Low growth rate.
- Just to earn money.
- A grind.
About the Author
Alesia Ruffin is a career coach with Montgomery Public Schools in Montgomery, Alabama. She also serves as an adjunct business education instructor at Alabama State University. Ruffin holds a bachelor’s degree in business education from Alabama State University, an MBA from Troy University, a master‘s and Ed.S. in business education from Auburn University, and is currently a career and technical education doctoral candidate at Auburn University.