What is the main focus in education? What is the purpose? To prepare students for real life jobs, careers and situations, right? Unfortunately, much of what we teach is dead-end; It lacks a purpose. We might get away with that for college preparation classes. But in any class which teaches skills, practical application is essential. If you are teaching a class in economics, technology, marketing, business English, freshman success, STAR, adult education, alternative education, communications or any content in which life skills are taught, one very effective tool is a to form a job club in class.
Foundation of a job club: Prepare students for real life circumstances and choices by working within the world of work. Align content to career choices of students and work places they may already be in. Working collaboratively will give students a chance to do real focused schoolwork (not just busy work) inform, help and support each other and learn self-actualization.
Begin by doing some career aptitude and interest surveys. Choose measures which reflect current trends, are positive and enjoyable. Informal discussion can produce some useful information. Don’t pooh-pooh or negate a students choices ( ‘you can’t do that’; ‘you’ll never make any money’, etc.) Within the frame work of the class, she will research and explore a career; she will learn just what goes into this job and what its down sides are. She can discover for herself if she is still interested.
Use your assessments to develop focus groups or networks amongst your students, based upon student aptitude and interest. You might group them into 4 or five basic areas: medical careers, science/ engineering (electronics, building trades, HVAC, technology, forestry, and trades) helping/ human services (counseling, teaching, child care, culinary arts,etc.), arts and entertainment (include musicians, sports, design, art, theater) and media (TV, radio, journalism, news, etc.). these are just basic areas. Where you assign students will depend upon the slant they choose to explore, where they may currently work, how far they plan to go into the trade, etc. Try to match groups based upon common themes within career choices. It may work to change groups occasionally if after research, students choose different careers or the focus of the career path changes.
Framework of job club: Depending upon the main content of your class, you may run the job club daily of weekly. If job club is part of a larger curriculum (marketing, economics, etc.) meet once a week; Mondays or Fridays are best. You may elect to do this as a unit, but I feel that a weekly ‘club’ format has more continuity and benefit. You can do this in any classroom, but you will need:
several computers with Internet access for research.
at least one telephone should be available to set up interviews, job shadowing, appointments, etc.
phone books, local maps, and current occupational reference handbooks
a bulletin board with job postings, career seminars and information, opportunities; this should be maintained by representatives from each focus group
Format of the job club: At each meeting, the focus groups should gather at least briefly to share in two venues: Each person should have a chance to share and be given a time limit so everyone gets a turn.
Experiences and events in the workplace :
things they’ve encountered
tips to help each other
possible careers based upon the job
Information they’ve gathered on their chosen field; possible information includes but is not limited to:
college, training and schools programs in their field
new frontiers and emerging occupations within their field
job availabilities and openings
changes in fields
focus on local and state businesses within the field
courses offerings besides just college
evaluation of online job search sites
Expectations and preparation for class:
generate a resume
complete at least three job interviews (for a full year class); one could be simulated
complete and maintain an online job profile
apply for 5 jobs, programs or colleges using different methods (fax, email, in person, filing out online application, and by hard copy)
bring in one piece of information per week
practice active listening
provide useful reflective feedback,
take notes and disseminate information via meeting minutes, a monthly newsletter, emails or a webpage
problem-solve within their groups
be accountable supportive to group members
This framework should provide a good start toward career preparation within the classroom.