Hosting a Career Day at school can help children understand how learning in class can relate to their future ambitions and dreams. It can even motivate students to learn more about certain subjects and work harder as they find new passions and goals for their post secondary studies and job interests.
First, let’s take an in-depth look at what a Career Day event is. Then, we’ll give you the tools to plan an epic event that your students will remember for a lifetime.
What Is Career Day?
Career Day is an event that showcases a variety of careers and professional opportunities for students. It is typically designed for middle school or high school students. But, it can be adapted for younger elementary school students.
A Career Day event may include presentations, workshops, panel discussions, and interactive activities or games. These can be led by the professionals invited, with the help of teachers, or by the school staff.
The professionals invited to take part in this event should come from many diverse backgrounds and careers. They could include everything from gardeners, artists and beauticians to doctors, engineers, firefighters, and lawyers.
The Importance of Career Day
Nurturing Career Aspiration and Exploration
Career Day can help students broaden their horizons and show them new career options. In addition, it can help them make decisions about which classes to take in school, which post-secondary courses or degrees they may need, and even which jobs they may choose for themselves in the future.
It can be an opportunity for students to interact directly with professionals, ask questions, and gain valuable insights into different career paths. It may show students something to work towards, help them set goals, and make decisions about their future education and career path possibilities.
Building a Community Connection
When you’re planning a Career Day, it will involve reaching out to people and businesses in your community. You’ll want to reach out to find professionals who are interested in taking part in your event. This kind of collaboration can strengthen bonds between the school and the community. Also, it can help display the many different career opportunities available within your neighborhood or city.
Career Day can be a space for students to find mentorship. Plus, creates opportunities for networking and collaboration by making students more aware of the local job market.
Who Career Day Is For
Career Day is typically for students in middle school or high school. The event is designed to benefit students who are exploring different career options and considering their future educational paths.
In a secondary sense, Career Day is also for employers. Employers can help shape students’ understanding of different careers and attract individuals who are interested in pursuing relevant educational paths and training.
By actively participating in Career Day events, employers demonstrate their commitment to supporting education and helping students explore career pathways. Participation in Career Day events can leave a positive impression of the participating companies and businesses, which can help attract potential future employees and build a favorable reputation among students.
How to Organize a Career Day at School
Build a Committee
A committee will likely be necessary for a school to host a Career Day event. The members of the committee will be responsible for choosing the date and time and organizing the logistics of the Career Day.
The committee members are also crucial for finding guest professionals from your community. They will also schedule the time and place each person will be hosting a discussion, presentation, booth or activity.
Committee members can also help with finding and setting up equipment and managing volunteers the day of to ensure things go smoothly.
Choose a Date
Find a date that works well for your school community as well as the professionals who are being invited to attend. Take into account any big examination dates or sporting tournaments as well as holidays and school breaks. You may want to set your date up to 2-3 months in advance to give enough time for preparation and for the professionals to book time off work or shift coverage in order to attend.
Get the Community Involved
Reach out to people in your community who may be interested in participating in your Career Day. This could be everyone from parents of the children who attend the school to local businesses and previous alumni.
You will likely want to have guest speakers or a mock job fair atmosphere set up in your school’s gym. Either way, you’ll want to invite several local professionals to either speak to the students or to set up a table or booth to display the interesting parts of their career for students.
You might consider hosting guest speakers or creating a simulated job fair ambiance in your school’s gymnasium. Either way, you’ll need to invite a variety of local professionals. They can either engage with students through insightful talks or set up booths that showcase captivating aspects of their respective careers.
We created two free templates to help you invite local professionals to your event: one for guest speakers and one for booth presenters. Use the template that best suits your needs.
Outline How the Day Will Run
Decide on a schedule of events that includes time for larger panel discussions and keynote speakers as well as smaller breakout sessions where students can pick a few interests to explore in smaller groups.
For older students in a high school setting who may be using Career Day to find a part time job or summer employment, you may even choose to set up multiple booths for potential employers to be stationed at so students can drop off their resumes or pick up a job application.
Consider Consumer and Student Interests
For a Career Day that truly has a significant impact on the students invited to attend, consider conducting a poll before running your event to see what specific careers the majority of students are most interested in learning more about.
Your poll might also include broader categories like health care, beauty, agriculture, and trades to help you get an idea of which job types will be most interesting for your audience.
Choose the Venue Space
From a large auditorium presentation to smaller classrooms where presenters or students rotate through, choose a venue space that will suit the style of event you’re interested in running.
Plan Enjoyable and Meaningful Experiences
Leaving time and space for students to interact directly with professionals is a great way to ensure your Career Day is full of meaningful experiences. You can also offer some tips to your presenters and confirm they have engaging and fun presentations and activities ready.
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Unique Career Day Ideas to Incorporate Into Your Event
Create a Resume (Younger and Older Students)
Learning how to create a resume is a life skill that students need in order to help connect their skills and abilities to potential future jobs. A resume creation activity is a great idea to incorporate into your Career Day event for younger students to get an idea of how they are structured and what they are composed of.
For older students, it may be more beneficial to ask them to prepare a resume ahead of time and bring it to the event for two reasons. The first reason would be so you can use it as a starting point to suggest edits during your resume creation activity. The second reason would be so they may distribute their resume to participating companies and organizations who may be looking for part time or seasonal workers.
Young students are often interested in the vehicles that are associated with certain careers. They may enjoy an activity that focuses on jobs that drive specific types of vehicles or use specialized equipment like firefighters, police officers, construction workers, mechanics, pilots, and more.
Bulletin Board of Potential Career Ideas
For an interactive activity that’s designed to promote idea-sharing, try a Career Day bulletin board. You can ask students to stop by this station to add their own ideas, and their family’s jobs to it. Students could add a job title they’re interested in pursuing or learning more about, to the board and they could also add an interesting job that someone in their family does to the board.
This activity helps broaden students’ horizons by helping them understand what types of jobs are out there that they may not have considered for themselves before.
Research and Explore Various Careers
Give your students the opportunity to research different career choices and assign them a project that will ask them to explore a career and related jobs in more depth.
Explore CareerOneStop.org Activities
Use the activities available on careeronestop.org to help prepare students for Career Day. This website is full of skill assessment tools, training plans and so much more that students will find useful.
Create Future Dream Banners, Pennants, or Dream Boards
To allow students to use their artistic nature and create something they may end up taking home to decorate their room with, or tuck into a journal, ask them to participate in making a dream board or decorating a banner.
These can be valuable tools that help young people remain focused on their career goals long after Career Day is over.
Have a Vocational Dress-Up Day
Students of all ages love a good excuse to dress up! Plan a dress-up day for students to wear a costume that corresponds to a career they’re interested in or even bring a small prop that’s associated with a certain job type.
Get Student Input With Surveys and Questionnaires
Prior to your Career Day event, create a survey for students to participate in. This survey may help you decide on which professionals you are most interested in inviting. Your survey or questionnaire may also include space for students to write down questions they have for presenters so that you can plan your presentations to be engaging and expand on the topics students want to know more about.
Build a Display of Educational Institutions (Older Students)
Have students work in groups to create a display of educational institutions in your area that students may be aspiring to be a part of someday. This display can decorate the halls of your school and serve as inspiration for weeks to come which will also allow other students to take a glance and get some ideas about their options.
Build a Display of “Grads You Know,”
Create a display that shows a photo of post secondary graduates who are staff in your school, school alumni, or family and friends of the students currently attending. Each photo should have a label to state what post secondary institution they graduated from, what program they graduated from, and the job that they currently hold.
Write a Where Will You Be Piece
Arrange an activity for students to write about their future aspirations and goals. They can write a paragraph or short essay that describes the education they want to have, the job they’d like to be doing and the location they would be living in.
Career Shadowing Program
Career shadowing can be a critical tool in helping young people decide if a certain career is their ultimate goal after graduation. It can also save someone from getting partway through an apprenticeship or degree before they realize they may not actually like the associated career enough to continue.
Create a career shadowing program so students can sign up to shadow a professional in a field of interest for a set period of time.
Organize a Virtual Career Day
If an in-person Career Day isn’t something your school is interested in or capable of, a virtual Career Day is a great option. You can use the site: explorelearning.com to create and host a virtual Career Day for your students. The virtual Career Day videos even have on-demand presentations that are grade level appropriate so students can hear from doctors, software engineers, scientific animators and more.
Making Career Day More Elementary Inclusive
There are many great books that are appropriate for elementary age audiences like:
- “When I Grow Up: A Young Person’s Guide to Interesting and Unusual Occupations” by Jessica Loy
- “Whose Hands Are These?: A Community Helper Guessing Book” by Miranda Paul
- “I Can Be Anything!” by Jerry Spinelli
For elementary age students, consider using engaging books to start children thinking about what they may want to be when they grow up and broaden their horizons about the options available.
For speakers coming into the classroom, focus on activities that may work well with your age group. You could have an artist come in for an art class, a firefighter come in who will allow children to try on gear or pass around a tool, or a nurse could come in and let students take turns with a stethoscope.
A teacher could poll students to see which careers interest them the most and then reach out to community members to arrange for a handful of speakers to come in for an activity. Alternatively, teachers may want to poll their classroom and see what parents of students do for work and if any of them would be interested in coming into the class.
Activities and Tools for Exploration
Having elementary age students conduct a self-assessment may help get the wheels turning on how things like their passions, extra curricular activities, favorite subjects, and their strengths may eventually build toward their future careers.
An age appropriate skill assessment activity along with a character building activity is a great choice for even the youngest students.
Young students can also write a paragraph or draw pictures about a job they are interested in. Add prompts to ask them the title and field of the job as well as what a person with the job does on a daily basis and why they like the job.
Use this free ‘Where Will You Be?’ Career Day Activity Worksheet to help students brainstorm:
Students can also help with a classroom activity like an alphabet chart. In a group chat, think of a job for every letter of the alphabet (hint, Q is for Quality Control and Z is for Zookeeper). This type of alphabet activity will show students a wide variety of job titles, and allow for brainstorming and collaboration.
Using Federal and State Career Resources
You can use the state-run career website for the area you live in. Some of these websites like: texascareercheck.com, and California’s cacareerzone.org offer great resources for exploring specific career choices and skill assessment for who may be a good fit for each type of job. They have a variety of other career services for every age range (youth – adult).
For Federal resources, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has a website for students and teachers to engage with. There are online games and resources, many are designed for Junior High and High School students but some are appropriate for students as young as grade four.
CareerOneStop is another website run federally by the US Department of Labor. CareerOneStop is a space for young adults to explore and also may have some interesting statistics and information for older elementary school children.
Fun Career Day Outfit Ideas
Another great way to engage with students about future career interests is to plan Career Day outfits and props. Career Day outfits are a great way to make an in-person event even more fun and engaging.
Here are 60 Career Dress Up Day ideas that are appropriate for young students:
- Police officer
- Construction worker
- Taxi Driver
- Sports Referee
- Business Man
- Travel Agent
- Mail Carrier
- Web Developer
- College Professor
- Animal Trainer
- Bus Driver
- Hair Stylist
- News Anchor
- Flight Attendant
- Military General
- Graphic Designer
- Makeup Artist
- Scuba Instructor
- Race Car Driver
- EMS First Responder
- Boat Captain
Students can put on a show-and-tell with their career day costumes and share why they chose that job and outfit. Other activities, like icebreaker questions for kids, could be incorporated into the day’s activities to help students get more engaged and excited for their futures.
When Is Career Day Typically Hosted?
Career day is typically a mid week event during the school year. For younger students, it can happen at any point of the year. For older students searching for part time or summer jobs, hosting Career Day in the early spring is ideal.
A mid week event often guarantees no holidays or big exams will be occurring. It also gives coordinators the opportunity to send out reminders on Monday and prepare for the mid week event.
When Is National Career Day Week?
National Career Day Week is usually in the month of March. The week is designed to improve the level of career awareness in schools. National Career Week is a great choice to host your annual career day event at school.
Are Career Day and Career Fairs the Same Thing?
Career Day and career fairs are not the exact same. Some Career Day events include a career fair, but not all of them do.
A career fair is an event designed to showcase different employers and career options to job seekers. The event format is typically many booths or stations for companies and industries that potential employees can visit. Prospects can engage with a each employer in order to ask questions, pick up applications or drop off resumes. A career fair can take place within a school but it can also be held elsewhere for the public to attend and find job opportunities.
Career Day is usually an in-school event that is made up of presentations, activities, and panel discussions. Professionals are invited to attend a Career Day event so students can learn more about future career paths, training, and how their skills and interests may align with potential jobs.
Hosting a successful Career Day is a powerful way to inspire and guide students on their journey toward potential careers and future success. By bringing together professionals from diverse fields, educational institutions, and students, Career Days offer a unique opportunity for exploration, learning, and community connection.