There are endless options of career paths to choose from, making it difficult for individuals to pinpoint one that alights with their interests and goals—especially at a young age. Afterschool programs offer the perfect place for children to explore various career paths and discover their passions. School curriculum does not often focus on preparing students in areas of professional development, which is why many high school graduates feel unprepared when it comes to college and career. According to a YouScience survey of 500 high school graduates between 2019-2022, 75% of them reported feeling moderately, slightly, or not prepared in those areas. Afterschool programs can help fill the gaps in school curriculum by providing students with a space to hone and develop their academic, technical, and interpersonal skills. With the right resources and support, these programs can be equipped to provide students with the tools and knowledge needed to succeed in their future careers.
Here are 4 ways afterschool programs can encourage career readiness in students:
- Host workshops on various job skills: The majority of skills seen as valuable in the workplace are ones that are not taught in school. Skills can be categorized into 2 types: technical and soft. Technical skills are specific, job-related skills that are usually acquired through formal education or training; on the other hand, soft skills are personal attributes—like communication and problem-solving—that enable individuals to be successful in a working environment. Workshops can be interactive and hands-on, offering children practical experience in various areas. A few ideas for workshops include: resume writing, interviewing skills, and public speaking.
- Provide opportunities for career exploration: The process of choosing a career as a student can be daunting. There are hundreds of potential careers, so it definitely takes time to explore various ones and decide on one to pursue. By inviting speakers from different professions, organizing field trips to workplaces, and offering career assessments, afterschool programs can help students gain a better understanding of the range of careers available to them. It is important for afterschool programs to introduce students to diverse industries, as there are many careers that they might not have heard of before. A great way to determine which careers to cover is to survey the students about their potential interests and goals. This can help program organizers get a sense of what students are most interested in and identify any gaps in knowledge or misconceptions about certain industries.
- Facilitate networking sessions: The importance of networking—especially in the workplace—is not emphasized enough. Networking is the act of forming and maintaining relationships with people; building a strong network can lead to new opportunities, people, and knowledge. As with many other skills, networking is one that can be developed and improved upon with practice. Networking sessions will not only offer students a chance to meet professionals in their field of interest, but also expose them to job and internship opportunities and industry insights. In the workforce, it is just as much “who you know” as “what you know.” Having the right connections is equally as important as having the necessary knowledge and skills, which is why networking is so heavily emphasized for young professionals.
- Implement a mentorship program: Mentors serve as role models for students, providing them with guidance and support as they navigate both their careers and the real world. A survey conducted by Gradient Learning found that 95% of educators believe that students benefit from having a one-on-one mentor. One way to establish a mentorship program is to tap into the school’s alumni network to see if there are any graduates who would be willing to serve as mentors for current students. In-person mentorships are often considered the most effective because students are able to interact face-to-face with their mentors, but virtual mentorships work just as well; as long as there is a direct line of communication between mentor and mentee, either format can be effective.
Student Hires Afterschool Programs
At Student Hires, we place a strong emphasis on helping students excel both inside and outside of the classroom. Our programs aim to provide students with the right resources to do well academically and to prepare students in various areas of career development. We have several programs ranging from K-12 after-school/summer programs to workforce development programs. In line with the conversation around extracurriculars, we also offer enrichment programs that allow students to explore their creative passions. Contact us to learn more about how we can create a custom-tailored program to meet your needs.
All this to say, students do not need to have their entire career journey mapped out by the time they graduate high school—what is important is that students are prepared to navigate the pressures that come with finding the right career. Career paths are often non-linear, with professionals pivoting and changing directions multiple times throughout their careers. With the help of afterschool programs, students can be better equipped with the skill sets and confidence needed to succeed in the future.