Getting students thinking about careers—and the pathways they want to pursue in high school—is important for helping them plan for the future.
To help Grade 7 and 8 students at St. Francis School, Bridget McGinnis, outreach co-ordinator at Northern Community Development Services (NCDS) here, held six career planning sessions that started in October and wrapped up late last week.
Jean Bujold, experiential learning lead for the Northwest Catholic District School Board, said she organized the sessions to get students thinking about career options and which educational pathways they could follow to achieve their goals.
“We want to help them understand the essential workplace skills that will be expected of them by employers regardless of whether they are working as a summer student or a full-time employee,” she noted.
“Right now, their job is to be a good student," Bujold added. "Some day they will need to apply good work habits to the workplace.”
Each session covered different topics, such as goal-setting career cruising, résumés/applications, interview skills, employer expectations, customer service, and financial literacy.
“Every single one of them had a different focus but we tried to make sure they built on each other . . . to show how these things are very much life skills,” McGinnis explained.
The importance of developing these skills was one of the key messages McGinnis delivered.
“For a lot of younger kids, they don't know maybe just how much work goes into all of these decisions so the earlier that you can expose them to it, the better,” she reasoned.
“The earlier they start to look at that, the easier it will be later for them to make a solid decision that's going to make them happy to go to work, happy to make good relationships with the people that they work with, and happy with their career choices.”
Getting students thinking about careers also helps them narrow down which streams they may want to pursue in high school, McGinnis said.
“For the paths to different careers, what you choose to do in high school matters,” she stressed.
Treating school like a full-time job was another are of focus during the sessions.
At school, students are developing their habits for later in life and the mindset students develop in high school will transfer over into the workplace.
McGinnis has visited district school's in the past to talk with students about careers, but never has held a series of subsequent sessions in an elementary school.
“This is the first time, really, that this in-depth of a session has gone on with this particular age group,” she noted.
Moving forward, McGinnis will be visiting other district schools to hold similar sessions on careers, including the Seven Generations Education Institute.
She had a very positive experience hosting the series of sessions at St. Francis and hopes to do it again down the road.
“It was a really enjoyable experience and the teachers were very welcoming,” McGinnis lauded.
“Everybody was just so wonderful," she added. ”They just jumped right in and were ready to try the things I was bringing in
“It just was super positive, I really enjoyed myself, and I hope that we get to try it again.”