Teachers Helping Teachers Blog

22 Career exploration resources and games for high school students

July 3, 2023


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“Find out what you like doing best and get someone to pay you for doing it.” – Katherine Whitehorn

In every school, in every district, in every state, students are asked to identify their dream job. The ever popular “what do you want to do for a living” question that permeates each discussion with a school counselor.

There are plenty of resources out there to explore career interests, to make career decisions, and to find career opportunities. Some are admittedly better than others.

The goal here is to provide you with an exhaustive list of ways for students to explore future careers. The grade level this is written for is high school, but that doesn’t mean that middle school students can’t also benefit from this list. Generally speaking, many middle school students have started to think about different careers already. It’s just that high schoolers are a little closer to starting their possible careers, and often the nature of their searching is just a tad bit more urgent.

Some of these are paid, some are free. I’m just trying to save you time by providing you as many different ways to show career research as possible. So let’s get started.

Career resources

  1. 16 Personalities

A variation of the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, students answer some common questions and are given feedback on their personality type. A fun activity to get your students thinking about who they are and how their life skills can tie into their career choices.


  1. ASA Futurescape

One of the more creative ideas for helping students with their future plans, this site takes about a minute for students to go through an out-of-this-world experience. After they are finished, they can click on planets to get more information on their career clusters based on their interests.


  1. Career Girls

A free resource designed to empower girls to find a career path that is a good fit for their personality and interests. Girls can take a quiz by checking off the boxes with the labels “I like“, “I can“, and “I want to be.” Or use the other tabs to explore specific career clusters, sort by actual jobs, and search for role models in the careers of their choice.


  1. CareerOneStop

The U.S. Department of Labor has provided this toolkit to help students explore careers, find scholarships, and local training for a variety of jobs. A great resource that provides plenty of career exploration activities and options.


  1. CareerShip

Students can explore jobs based on their own skills and interests, or by career clusters. Includes a link to Mapping Your Future to help with preparing for college and financial aid help.


  1. Career Village

When it comes to looking up students’ favorite occupations, most of the programs are focused on providing information. This website instead focuses on allowing students to ask questions to real-life professionals across the country. A great idea to get students to connect with real people and ask real questions in the world of work, without having to set up career days.


  1. Careers and Personal Finance by Khan Academy

Students looking for new information on careers can always benefit from listening to those who are actually doing those careers. So Khan Academy interviewed individuals from a wide variety of jobs to provide real career information.

Questions include topics such as how they got their job, where they’re going from here, their budget, and how they paid for college (for those that require more than a high school education).


  1. Education Planner

This site is less about the flash and more about the details. Provided by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, it helps students use personality traits, explores career fields, and more.


  1. Firsthand

With their “day in the life” series, you can have the students watch short videos (great for young adults with short attention spans) where professionals show off their workplace. A different approach to the process of career exploration.


  1. Forage

I love that this site allows students to learn directly from companies, allowing students to take short courses. The really cool thing is that students can get a certificate for completion, that they can add to their resume, curriculum vitae, or on their LinkedIn profile. According to their site, those that complete these are four times more likely to get hired by the companies.


  1. HIGH5

HIGH5 is designed to help people identify their top 5 strengths. The plan then is to use this information to figure out career pathways, along with other things such as team productivity, even finding a partner. Over 3 million people have used it so far to help identify their career goals and strengths. My opinion is that it makes a great starting point for young people.

The free version lets you find your top 5 strengths. Paying to upgrade allows you to see career applications, development insights, and more. $29 a report is a bit steep, but you could always take the first step and let parents decide if they want to pay for the upgrade.


  1. Job Shadow

Over 400 interviews from professionals in a variety of careers, covering some career preferences that most sites don’t touch. A really cool site to help students break out of the traditional jobs out there.


  1. myFUTURE

Built by the Department of Defense, this website is great for students who are looking at a variety of careers, not all of which require higher education. Students can get help choosing and applying for a college as well, even giving tips on getting the most out of college visits.

The part that is missing from many other sites is the other career types, giving students feedback on military options as well (which isn’t a big surprise considering the source).

A closer look at the various careers presented includes options for the highest-paying careers, jobs in demand, career paths without a degree, and leadership careers. Jobs are also sorted into career clusters.


  1. Occupational Outlook Handbook

A favorite tool that I use in my classroom for career development, this site U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics packs a punch. There’s a little bit of everything on here, making it easy to use real statistics and projections to develop your career awareness activities for students.


  1. O*NET Interest Profiler

A career education source, like many others, involves a quiz based on what your answers are to the career interest survey. Long story short, students answer a bunch of questions about what they like to do and then it lines up career options that are a good fit.


  1. Princeton Review Career Quiz

Once students finish answering the questions, they’ll be given the interest/style that matches your choices. Then students can view the recommended careers to help with their career plan.


  1. Roadtrip Nation

Unlike most career exploration tools, this one involves a green RV and interviews with individuals presented as documentaries. There’s also a course for students to jump in and explore the labor market for themselves via a more step-by-step process.


  1. Truity

Another free quiz to help students find the best career for them based on their personality and interests. A fun way to get students thinking about what they enjoy doing, taking job profiles and salaries out of the equation.


Career games and activities


  1. Claim Your Future

A great way to explore careers, as well as open up discussions about cost of living and other related topics. There’s an online game that allows students to choose a career and then follow step-by-step directions to gain some financial literacy about living with that career the rest of their lives.

I should note that there is also an option to purchase kits to play without computers as well. A great tool for students to quickly check out potential careers.


  1. Influenc’d

A quick game to let students explore life as an influencer.


  1. Reality Works

A free site to download curriculum, and plenty of activities. Completely free, and a great way to beef up your current lesson plans.


  1. The Uber Game

Unlike most career exploration games, this one takes a look at a job that doesn’t fit into the traditional category. Students become an Uber driver, then have to make decisions as they survive the gig economy throughout a week. A simple activity that can be squeezed into lesson plans to fill a time gap.


Problems with career exploration for students

No matter how important we all know this topic is, there will always be students with objections. Or issues that you feel you should identify to help them out. Just to help you with a few that commonly come up, I’ll throw a few out for you and try to provide you with some backup.


Students who are researching careers that don’t fit their current grades

This can definitely be a touchy subject. You’ve got a student who is failing most of their classes and wants to be a doctor. Or the basketball player who didn’t make the high school team but swears they’ll play in the NBA. What do you do?

On the one hand, you probably want to support the student to follow their dreams. On the other hand, really? You feel like you’ll be doing them a disservice to not let them know the odds.

The truth, in the end, lies somewhere in the middle. This is where your relationship with the student will impact how you handle the situation. Some kids are better at handling the truth than others.

Use the situation to point out the essential skills for their dream job. Their future success in that career needs to be looked at with a little critical thinking. And a little tact.

Here’s an example I often use in class. It’s pretty common for me to have a future professional athlete in my class. (FYI, in 24 years that is a total of zero that played professionally in the US, 1 did play overseas).

Rather than spending a whole class period arguing about the odds of them making it pro, we discuss things such as what could happen if they were to get injured. Or the skills they’ll need to take care of their money so they aren’t taken advantage of (have them watch the ESPN 30 for 30 episode Broke). Or what they’ll do even if they have a full career, since they’ll probably retire in their upper 30’s if they are highly successful. That’s a lot of life when they’ll need to do something.

Spend less time on telling them they won’t make it, more on their soft skills and technical education they’ll need to be successful.


Students think it’s just about the money

Inevitably, many of your students’ job searches will revolve around making money. They’ll take the approach that if they make enough, they can do anything as a job. I’m not saying money isn’t important, clearly it also matters.

But all you have to do is look at the fun career games and activities listed here to realize that the importance of career exploration is just as much about finding something that’s a good fit.


The student who asks “why is career exploration important?”

There can be a lot of reasons for this question. Since you are teaching elementary students, you’d assume that high school students would be starting to think about their lives beyond their graduation plans.

A good way to get your reluctant students thinking about careers is to discuss the kind of lifestyle they want to have. In order to live like that, they’ll need to reach a certain income level that may not be covered by local career options. Have them look at job postings to see what kind of salary they can expect. Just get them looking, because that’s the first step.


Need graduate classes?

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Got a cool site or activity not listed here? Email me at [email protected] and I’ll see if it’s a good fit. I’m always looking for new things to share, and ones to use in my own classroom.

And if you know anyone who could benefit from these resources, please pass it along. We’re all in this together, and we all benefit from sharing.

It’s why MTI has always been “teachers helping teachers.”

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