Points of View

Introducing Students to Careers

Sam Stebbins

Introducing Students to Careers

One focus of Talent 2025’s K-12 Education Working Group is to help students become college or career ready by the time they graduate high school. It is important that students develop skills for the workforce, but before they do, students need to have some idea of what careers they are interested in.

When to begin career exploration

So, how early should students be exposed to career options? Some schools across the United States begin career exploration as early as elementary school, but many argue that students at this age aren’t ready to truly grasp the concepts of careers and college. Instead, some research has suggested that the best time to introduce students to careers is in middle school.

During middle school years, students have plenty of time to explore a variety of careers and consider what fields they might be interested in. With support from teachers, parents, and school counselors, middle schoolers can engage in career exploration enthusiastically and effectively.

Middle school is also a great time to introduce students to careers because it allows them to enter high school with goals in mind. Goal-oriented high school students are more focused and interested in learning. Additionally, early planning in high school helps students to be more prepared to transition to college, post-secondary training, or directly into their careers. With their future careers in mind, high school students are better informed about what skills they need to acquire before graduation in order to achieve their goals.

How Employers Can Help

Employers can help by volunteering with student career fairs or with local middle schools to introduce students to their industries. Additionally, they can get involved with the K-12 Working Group to learn more about preparing students for college or careers.