By Dave Ellefson, High School Counselor
Adolescence is a time in a person’s life where he/she goes through many changes. Both emotionally and physically. It is a time to discover strengths and weaknesses. It is a time to learn about the effort and grit it takes to find success in our areas of weakness and to overcome setbacks as we follow our compass into the future. Career Theorist Eli Ginzberg states that there are three stages of career development.
The first stage is known as the Fantasy Period. This period ends at about age 11. During this time in a child’s life, careers are usually based on play. Ginzberg believed children transition from playful imitation to work imitation near the end of this stage.
In middle and high school years, adolescent children are able to better focus on, and recognize, work requirements and move into the Transition Stage. There are four components in this period. The first component is “interest,” where children learn likes and dislikes. The second component is “capacity,” where the child learns how much his/her abilities align with his/her interests. The third component, “values,” sees the child at 15 become aware of how work may fulfill his/her values. The final component of this period is called “transition.” Transition begins when the individual assumes responsibility for his/her own actions, becomes independent and exercises her freedom of choice.
The final stage of career develop will also begin during a student’s time in high school. The realistic period begins at age 17 and goes into the early 20s. The first phase of the realistic stage is “exploration.” During this phase, the student chooses a career path but remains open to other opportunities. The next phase, “crystallization,” is when the student becomes more engrossed in a particular career, committing to one direction more than ever. The third period is “specification,” in which the student commits to or develops a preference for a specific area of work.
You may be asking, “Why is this important?” It is important because students need help with this process. Over the past few years, we have been very intentional at the high school level about helping to guide our students through this process with the creation of Tigerpath Academies, 4 year plan development, and Advisory lessons which guide students through the career development process. High School class registration will be beginning in the new year and we need the whole Hutchinson community to be equipped to help our youth as they make decisions about their future and explore interests and abilities. Hutchinson, our region, and our state are all affected by how well we do this. In the state of MN, only 60% of students who attend a 4 year college have graduated within 6 years of enrollment. In community colleges, only 29% who are enrolled compete a degree in 3 years. April Hanson, a representative of ACT, says one of the main reasons qualified students do not compete a degree is due to the fact that they do not have a clear career path in place. Hutchinson High School is committed to helping our students to be on the positive side of these statistics.
Stephen Smith and Shaun Fanning have written a book titled Who Do You Think You Are? It is an excellent resource for those who influence teens including parents, educators, employers, youth leaders, etc. Its intent is to give suggestions on how to coach teens to achieve college and career success by helping them to discover strengths and interests. It also gives suggestions to help teens decide on the correct path to reach career success. This may include college, the military, an apprenticeship, or work experience to reach personal goals. We have 20 copies of this book available for check out at the high school media center. Join us in helping our students to direct their individual career paths by asking them the following questions: Who are you?, Where are you heading?, and How will you get to where you want to go?.