An action plan is a well-defined road map for goal attainment. It includes both long-and short-term goals, as well as alternative routes and back up plans. The plan should be viewed as a living document not static. Therefore, customization and periodic review should be part of the process. For secondary school students, the Action Plan is their Career & Educational Plan. But, before action can be planned, creating a personal profile (career narrative) is essential.
Although the format of a plan may vary from one school to another, regardless of the locale, the student MUST ALWAYS author his or her plan and the Career Development Mentor/Facilitator, will act as the managing editor. After all, in less than four years, a freshman in high school will be totally responsible for his or her educational and career decisions. Helping students take ownership of their career development by guiding them through the creation of a career and educational plan, based on their interests, skills, values, personality type and thinking style, is an overarching goal of a career practitioner working with high school age students.
It is important not to make the mistake of underestimating the importance of helping a student create a personal profile. This narrative, which can eventually evolve into a personal statement later in high school, can serve as the foundation for a substantiated and well, thought-out career and educational plan.
Personal Profile or Career Narrative
What exactly is a Personal Profile or Career Narrative and how can it stimulate buy-in and ownership in career pathway planning and academic schedule development? First, let’s take a look at an example of a Personal Profile at the freshmen level. A Profile or Career Narrative is simply a description of a student’s dependable strengths, career ambitions and educational goals and milestones. It is normally about three paragraphs and should contain at least the following:
1. Your Dependable Strengths (WHO I am no matter where I am at)
2. A description or explanation of your planned career pathway. (WHAT I want to be when I grow up)
3. A description of your educational goals/milestones. (HOW I am going to get there)
Below is an example of a personal profile written by a freshmen:
Personal Profile - Career Narrative
I am a Driver. I like to create activity and set the pace within my family and friends. I am not afraid to take risks or impose my will through strong action in order to move ahead. I am bold, direct, confident, competitive and often pioneering. In an ideal work in environment I scored highest in achievement and independence. I have mechanical ability and I prefer to work outside with tools. I like to observe, learn, and investigate and can be imaginative and innovative when necessary. I am most interested in the Industrial, Manufacturing, and Engineering Systems career field. I plan on pursuing a job in the Design and Pre-Construction pathway. I would possibly like to pursue a job as an Architecture Drafter or a Computer Aided Drafter. I have a 3.0 GPA. My attendance record is very good. While in high school I will take extensive coursework in drafting and advanced math such as Calculus. After I earn my diploma in the spring of 2016, I plan to pursue an advanced degree in Architecture. I also plan to get an architect license.
Helping a student author their personal career narrative can create reflective dialogue between you and that student as well as provide for a nice transition into helping them to begin build a 4-year academic plan. For instance, “Since you value achievement, you like working with tools, and you like to observe, learn and investigate, have you considered taking Computer Aided Drafting as an elective?”
Once again, it must be understood that profiles written by 9th graders, are the result of personal and guided career exploration, assessment, and reflection on the part of the student, at this stage in their lives. Obviously, things can (and to some extent) most certainly will change. But, change should be valued and embraced because it can show that the student is owning their career and educational development process.
How valuable though, can these career narratives be in helping students to take ownership in the planning of their future career pathways? Personal profiles such as these can serve as benchmarks in which the Career Counselor, Mentor or Facilitator use to hold students accountable, and to keep them on track during high school. It can provide a constant rallying point as counselors meet with them throughout their high school years.
Early Profiles Connects to Authentic Planning
Designing a four-year educational plan and setting career goals can be a daunting task for many students at the early high school level. Initially making this task more about personal narrative and less about goal-setting just might build the proper buy-in and motivation so authentic planning for their future can actually begin. A little more time spent on the front end with a freshmen by helping them to design a personal career narrative, can help to save and better utilize their educational training and time on the back end!
R. Kent Blessing, GCDF, has been the Career Development Coordinator at the Career & Technical Education Academy in Hutchinson, KS since 2008 and a Marketing & Business Technology instructor for 15 years prior. He has developed a 10-week, online Career Development Mentor (CDM) training and has successfully trained over 50 educators from across Kansas since 2012 to become CDMs. One of Kent's passions is to help secondary educators, students and families 'create a culture of career conversations' within their schools. Kent can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org