Career landscapes—and the paths to reach them—are complex to navigate. The school counselors in the District serve as guides, helping students navigate the future.
One of the tools staff uses is Career Cruising, a leading career-development software. School Counselor Caroline Babik explains, "Career Cruising allows for a one-stop shop for research in career pathways. It then gives them connections to the level of education and possible options. We utilize it in the counseling program to help guide them with the right classes, activities to get involved in, and how to go next-level with their ideas." Exploring the wide breadth of career options is vital for students at this pivotal age. Babik likes to have students do an exercise to trace the different ways interests can develop. She shares, "One of my favorite things to do with kids is to have them pick a career they think they like, then look at the related careers and pick one there and continue to do that until they hit the final list where they aren't interested in anything. I call it a spider web—go as far out as you can, collect as many possible careers, and then start skimming down the list." Students are exposed to options they might not have otherwise considered. The staff also uses a website to provide student resources. On the website, school counselors have created a centralized repository for information, giving students a trove of valuable information on everything from education to job postings to work-life balance.
The counseling program doesn't assume all students will automatically attend a four-year school. Rather, it focuses on the interests of the students, exposing them to a broad array of options. For instance, staff recently looked at the level of education required for ten in-demand careers and only three required a bachelor's degree or higher. In addition to level of education, staff also focuses on specific skills students will need in all fields. Babik notes, "There is a realization that there are skills that are needed that have been lost with our current workforce. Soft skills most specifically. A lot of focus on technology has created a workforce who lack basics speaking skills—eye contact, follow-up, being comfortable talking on the phone and asking for help, self-advocacy, critical thinking, creativity, writing skills, initiation." Counselors work with students to understand the skills they need to thrive in their chosen field.