School Career Day Ideas

Updated February 21, 2017

Career day is a chance to try on a job hat--sometimes literally--to see if it might fit. Elementary school students enjoy thinking about what they want to do when they grow up, and middle schoolers start to become more serious about this. Career day preparation can be a valuable learning exercise for students and a heads-up about the skills and education their potential career choices would require.

Kindergarten through Second Grade

Young children have heard adults ask them, “What do you want to be when you grow up,” enough times to have a few ideas in mind when they hit school. Kindergartners up to second graders often enjoy the focus and fantasy of a career day while they practice a few academic skills. A week or so before the career day, talk about careers in class and read one or two early reader books aloud that explain the details of a particular career. Survey the class to find out what each student wants to be—more than one answer is fine. Write the ideas on the blackboard. Have the students vote for favourites and tabulate the votes. The top five vote-getting jobs are your go-to list. The teacher or class parent should find one or more willing speakers from the voted career list to talk to the class. Encourage students to dress up as their preferred profession on career day. Lead the students in asking questions of the speakers when they have given their presentations.

Grades 3 through 5

Prior to career day, third through fifth grade classes should discuss careers and how to prepare for them. Each student selects a career to research, which can be a job he or she wants or finds interesting. On career day, they should present their findings to the class through a PowerPoint presentation, speech, video explanation, posters or even an essay. The whole class should discuss the education and training requirements for those careers. The day concludes with presentations from people who work in popular careers. Speakers may come to individual classes or all of the classes can assemble in the auditorium for presentations.

Grades 6 through 8

Classes six through eight are assigned roles for creating a career fair for the middle school. They discuss possibilities, form teams, invite speakers and conduct research to set up booths in the halls or auditorium. Career presenters will meet the students and answer questions. Students may choose to create video displays, posters, FAQs, biographies of well-known professionals and signage to make their booth inviting and informative. One booth could feature a college admissions counsellor who talks about the application process for popular programs. Booths also could highlight information on internships, with handouts about finding the right one (or, the booth could have sign-up sheets to provide students with more details from business partners in the community). The career fair can include onstage speaker presentations to the entire group about particular careers, if time and logistics permit. Teachers should coordinate the required research and set-up activities for the booths.

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About the Author

Benna Crawford has been a journalist and New York-based writer since 1997. Her work has appeared in USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, and in professional journals and trade publications. Crawford has a degree in theater, is a certified Prana Yoga instructor, and writes about fitness, performing and decorative arts, culture, sports, business and education .