Career Development Month Series: Ignite College and Career Readiness By Encouraging Self-Discovery

Career Development Month Series: Ignite College and Career Readiness By Encouraging Self-Discovery

November is National Career Development Month! This is the first of four articles in our Career Development Month blog series.

Becoming future-ready for students isn’t just about applying for college. It’s an ongoing process that educators should engage students in throughout their entire academic journey, so that each activity, lesson, and lived experience brings students closer to a meaningful post-secondary pathway. At Xello, our mission is to help anyone, anywhere in the world become future ready, so we’re kicking off National Career Development Month by introducing our new blog series dedicated to helping you, help your students create successful futures.
In the coming weeks we will cover topics on creating career awareness, how students can explore their future options, how to build future readiness skills and create future plans, as well as how to engage parents along the college and career readiness journey.

To help you enter this month’s focus on career development across your districts, let’s first look at the first step in the student’s career development journey–which begins with the importance of encouraging self-discovery in your students at every age. If you’d like, feel free to skip ahead to the next step, creating career awareness.

What Is Self Discovery?

Self-discovery is the life-long process of acquiring insight into one’s own character and the foundation of creating a successful future. In the wise words of good, old Aristotle, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” Self-discovery is also a large piece of the Social Emotional Learning (SEL) framework.
The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) defines SEL as the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.
And, what is the first of their five core SEL competencies?
You guessed it: Self-awareness, which they define as “knowing your strengths and limitations, with a well-grounded sense of confidence, optimism, and a ‘growth mindset.’” The core SEL competencies that follow self-awareness are self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.


career development month
Image Source: CASEL (What is SEL?)

So, why is it important to actively teach SEL skills? Think of your own life now as an adult and how important self-management, decision-making, and relationships are to your own success!
These competencies will be critical throughout a students’ education and career endeavors, which is why it’s important to have a SEL curriculum to set them up for successful futures.
And the research confirms this. Developmental research shows that effective mastery of social-emotional competencies is associated with greater well-being and greater school performance.
SEL has been a buzz-acronym in education for a while now, but if you’re new to it, or are just looking for new ways to implement SEL skill development into your curriculum, check out our article Social Emotional Learning Activities for the Virtual Classroom.

How Xello Supports Self-Discovery from K-12

If you’re new to Xello, welcome! As an educator or counselor interested in learning what we do here, I recommend you watch the quick video on the Xello homepage.
If you’re ready to introduce students to the exciting journey of becoming future-ready with Xello, we created this video for your students: Explore Your Future with Xello. If you’re an educator or counselor, we encourage you to show this video to your class to kick-off Career Development Month or before introducing students to Xello as a tool for exploring their interest and possible career pathways.

career development month
Explore Your Future With Xello

When it comes to self-discovery, personal reflection will only get students so far, which is why assessments are a key component of helping students connect who they are to future opportunities in Xello.
If you have ever taken a personality or strengths assessment for work or just out of curiosity, you already know how accurate (and helpful!) the results can be in mirroring back to you the personal strengths you may take for granted.
Xello’s assessments give students a tool for self-awareness and discovery that they can keep coming back to. The assessments have students critically evaluate how often they wish to use a set of common skills in their future career, and how that preference matches them with careers.
Ready for a tour of student assessments in Xello? In this module you will learn how career assessments can help students on their path to self-discovery and can introduce students to opportunities they may not have considered before.

Take Action with These Classroom Activities and Assessments

Students may have a few interests, but it’s always good to get them down on paper and reflect on them. They may not have even considered how a particular interest could lead to a fulfilling career! Here are some activities you can run in your classroom during Career Development Month to promote self-discovery as the first step in future readiness.

Show Students How Their Interests Can Lead to Rewarding Career Paths

Here is a lesson you can conduct with your class during Career Development Month to get students thinking about how their interests—both at home and school—can be a great jumping off point for career path investigation.

Activity 1: A Brainstorm of My Interests (20 minutes)

To investigate their own interests in connection with careers, start by having students brainstorm a personal interests list and investigate ways to develop and expand their interests. This can be done as a homework assignment so that students can get their families involved. Some inquiry questions to prompt students could be:

  • What are my interests? In other words, when I have spare time at school or at home, what am I interested in doing?
  • What topics do I read about in my spare time? What am I drawn towards learning about?
  • Do I have common interests with my peers?
  • Are there opportunities to explore my interests in the community?

Activity 2: My Interests at School (35 minutes)

Every student has favorite school subjects and by exploring careers that match those interests students can begin seeing the many options they have. In Xello, direct students to Explore Careers by using the More Filters button to refine their search to school subjects they’re interested in. Have them review a minimum number of career profiles and direct them to save at least 3 they’d consider for themselves.

Activity 3: My Interests (10 minutes)
In this activity, students will thoughtfully save at least 5 interests in their Xello About Me profile by exploring interest categories and saved careers.

Activity 4: Xello Lesson: Interests (20 minutes)
Direct students to complete the Xello Lesson titled Interests, where they will explore how their saved interests relate to their saved careers and how what they like doing everyday may lead them towards their future career.

Activity 5: Interest Share (25 minutes)
In this activity, students will update their interests based on their personal preferences and their interest assessment results. As a class, they will explore interests they share with each other, and discuss opportunities within and outside of school that relate to these interests.

Show Students How Personality Styles Can Lead to Amazing Career Possibilities

For grade 9 and above, we recommend students learn about personality styles, discover their own personality style, and get to know how these personality styles relate to the workplace.
In this next activity, students will

  • ​​Investigate personality styles
  • Explore how their own personality style can help them at home, school, work, and other areas of their life
  • Reflect on how different personality styles collaborate in sample workplaces

Before beginning this activity in class, we suggest you take phase 2 (Personality Style) of the Matchmaker Interest assessment in Xello and share your own Personality Style results with your students. It can be useful to share how these traits have supported you in your own career journey to give students a real-world example to ground them to.

Activity 1: Personality Style Assessment (35 minutes)
In Xello, have students complete phase 2 (Personality Style) of the Matchmaker Interest assessment. After your students have completed the assessment have them View Full Results to learn about the Holland Model and the traits linked to their personality styles.

Activity 2: Xello Lesson: Personality Style (35 minutes)
Direct students to complete the Xello Lesson titled Personality Styles to learn about 6 personality styles and how they relate to core job tasks and workplace environments.

Activity 3: Workplace Personalities Discussion (55 minutes)
As a class, brainstorm various workplaces the class is familiar with (e.g. restaurant, movie theater, public library, etc.) and provide these as options for this small group task.
Direct students to select one personality style (Builder, Thinker, Creator, Helper, Persuader, or Organizer) or use the Personality Styles Student Work Report, found in your Xello educator tools as a way to organize small discussion groups.
In small groups, students will identify at least 3 different careers that are essential to the selected workplace and a list of core tasks that involve 2 or more of these individuals. This can be done on chart paper or on a shared document, which they will later share with the whole class.
Provide the following questions for the group to discuss and record, based on the common core tasks determined in step 3:

  • What does each career bring to the task?
  • What are they responsible for?
  • How do their responsibilities match their personality style?
  • Would the task be successfully accomplished with different personalities?

If time allows, pair groups together to share their findings, or display the work in a space that’s easily accessed by every student.

Activity 4: My Personality Style (5 minutes)
Have students write a short reflection about how their own personality style has helped them to relate to others at school and one other environment (ie. a club, sports team, workplace, or volunteer activity).

Ready to Help Your Students Start their Self-Discovery Journey?

In addition to the activities we listed above, there are other great resources we wanted to share that might inform your career month activities around self-discovery. The National Career Development Association provides great future-readiness activities, including their document Creating Relevance: Ways to Build Career Awareness. This resource gives activities for career awareness for grades K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. The Canadian Career Development Foundation also has great resources and infographics. And, we explored this more in our 2021/22 ASCA Reigniting CCR series.

Read on for our second installment in this series: Create Career Awareness and Encourage Students to Explore Their Options!