Career Awareness

The foundation of work-based learning is career awareness

Students build an awareness of the variety of careers available and begin to identify areas of interest. Students begin these activities in elementary school and continue through middle school. Career awareness experiences provide students with opportunities to understand how school relates to the world of work. These activities typically include parents or other adults speaking about their jobs and why they are interesting and field trips to businesses.

  • Describe different careers and the basic pathways leading to a variety of careers
  • Describe how basic skills such as math and reading are used in the workplace
  • Articulate the importance of post-secondary education and training following high school graduation.

Career Exploration

Career exploration activities provide students with a deeper understanding of the workplace

Students explore career options for motivation and to inform decision-making. Ideally career exploration activities, begin in middle school with the intent to inform students decisions about high school and continue during the first two years of high school to inform student decisions about their course selection, extracurricular activities, and post-secondary options. Career exploration experiences continue throughout an individual’s working life as job opportunities shift and career changes occur.

  • Students have direct interactions (actual or virtual) with professionals from the industry and community that provide the opportunity for two-way communication between the partners and the students.
  • Activities provide students with a full understanding of the range of occupations within the industry on which their academies’ focus, the skill and education requirements needed for these jobs, and an understanding of the relevance of academic and theme-based courses in their academies.
  • The experience connects to students’ existing interests and strengths, helping them refine their areas of interest and explore careers and interests more deeply
  • Students play an active role in the experiences and apply their growing knowledge and awareness of careers in their interactions with partners. They analyze the information they’ve learned and identify further interests.

Career Preparation

Career preparation activities are designed to help students acquire the basic foundational skills needed for college and career readiness

Students apply learning through practical experiences and interactions with professionals from industry and the community in order to extend and deepen classroom work and support the development of college and career readiness knowledge and skills (higher-order thinking, academic skills, technical skills and applied workplace skills).

  • Students have one-on-one two-way interactions with professionals from industry over an extended period of time.
  • Students have the opportunity for in-depth discoveries and experiences within particular career and range of occupations.
  • Activities integrate academic skills acquired in the classroom with work-based skills obtained in the workplace.
  • Emphasis is on skill building, understanding the concept of transferable skills, learning to work as a team member, relationships, appreciating ethics and honesty, and relating personal interests and abilities to career opportunities.
  • The depth and length of the experience is sufficient to enable students to develop and demonstrate specific college and career readiness skills
  • Students engage in activities that have consequences beyond the classroom have value beyond school success and can be evaluated by professionals using industry standards.

Internships

Internships are the culmination of high school career preparation activities

Internships allow students to apply work-readiness and academic skills and learn specific occupational skills in a workplace setting. Internships are paid or offer some form of compensation to students in order to provide an authentic work experience. Internships occur during 11th or 12th grade years, most typically during the summer between the 11th and 12th grade.

NAF believes internships should meet the following guidelines:

  • They are related to the academy theme.
  • Students are paid or compensated (e.g. stipend).
  • There is an individual student learning plan with clear learning outcomes.
  • There is a formal evaluation by work-site supervisor with a feedback loop to appropriate school personnel.
  • There are clear connections to academic or classroom instruction.