November is Career Development Month: What to Do and Why November?
By Amy Policastro Schroeder
It’s exciting and humbling that the National Career Development Association (NCDA) dedicates the month of November annually to the career development profession – the profession, where everyone is working to make a difference in the lives of others. To all of you working in this profession, remember you are inspiring and empowering!
November is National Career Development Month (NCD Month), but isn’t every month “Career Development Month” - an opportunity for us to support others in their career journey? November is special and yet it also reminds us that career development never stops. During November, we can remind those we serve that career development is constant – and worth celebrating!
Who is Career Development Month For?
Typically, the K-12 population is exposed to career awareness and exploration, the broader their understanding of ways to match their interest, gifts, and skills to careers. This doesn’t mean only the young get to celebrate, explore, and focus on careers. National Career Development Month is for ALL ages; I like to call it ages K-Lifetime!
I have often been asked how and where to start promoting career development, as the concept can be daunting and isn’t left to Happenstance. I hope that got a chuckle out of you. My first response typically is to encourage others to start celebrating with baby steps. Then I share what I’ve done as a North Carolina K-12 Career Development Coordinator (CDC). These steps easily apply to anyone in any constituency group.
The school or business, at any level, is home to students, where exposure to celebrating career development starts gradually, whether it’s kindergarten, graduate school, workforce center, or private practice. A simple, starting baby step is to find one educator, class, or professional to start the journey of promoting NCD Month and weave it into discussions and activities throughout the month and year.
My favorite simple activity for NCD Month was school-wide and a community-builder. On November 1 each year, everyone in the building was provided an 8/12 x 11 sign to place on their office or room door titled “Let me tell you about…”. The sign had two columns denoting “My Education,” and “My Careers.” The owners of the door listed their places of education, focus, and all careers leading to the current one, which prompted conversation, fellowship, and community. This activity grew throughout the year, by adding photos, and a bulletin board career matching competition. With a little effort, this simple sign can be used at the higher ed level and in private practice.
Here are some additional activities, which can be done any month, where starting with one activity or person can make an inspiring, empowering difference.
- Career Costume Day (November 1 vs October 31)
- Career Music Competition
- Industry Tours
- Career Research Paper including LMI for State of Residence
- Create a Career Crossword Puzzle (with Key)
- Career Elevator Speech Competition – Guess the Career
- Career Journal
- Career Charades
- Career Pictograph
- Career Collage (Art)
- Create a Career Job Posting
- Career Jeopardy
Annual Contest and Testimonials
NCDA invites all NCDA chartered state divisions to enter the annual Poetry and Art Contest as a way to celebrate National Career Development Month. This year's theme is “My Inspiring Future Career.” Click here to read the full contest rules.
The contest is another example of an inspiring activity and it connects the state activities to the national level – especially when the winners are listed on the NCDA website or displayed at the NCDA conference next year!
As the North Carolina Career Development Month Co-chair, I spoke with many professionals throughout the state and learned of their activities. They all are inspiring – here are just a few examples:
Tony Fogleman, Cleveland County Schools Career and Technical Education (CTE) Director is a supporter of career development and NCDA. Tony reports "The NCDA Poetry and Art Contest provides an opportunity for our schools to promote the importance of career development to our students. The contest is a great way for our students to get involved tangibly with each year's theme. Student career development is a core principle for our district as we prepare students to be enrolled, employed, or enlisted after graduation. Our CDCs are at the fore front of our efforts to help students prepare for the world-of-work.”
Randolph County Schools implement a yearly video challenge contest, with a unique tagline. Students create videos highlighting how one or more of CTE’s goals, such as work-based learning, credentials, and dual credit courses, have impacted their career plan. The winning video is used to tell the county career development and CTE story throughout the year. Misty Wolf, Randolph County Schools CTE Coordinator states, “We love this video challenge for many reasons. Students experience multidisciplinary collaboration on a project that promotes a common career theme. Schools rally around their CTE and career development champions which promotes the great work they do each day. Our district and stakeholders benefit from the resource itself as a means to share the high-quality career development and CTE programs thriving in our district.”
At the school level, Wanda Barnes, the Career Development Coordinator with the Wake Young Men’s Leadership Academy (WYMLA) Early College in Raleigh, NC along with the English and Art educators, have mastered incorporating NCDA’s Poetry and Art contest into their curriculum. Wanda notes, that “in English courses specifically, we provide our students with various career assessments, where our teacher discusses making SMART goals that will help the students thrive in their top career of interest someday. Some years, our English teachers have given the students readings about careers to support and introduce NCDA’s Poetry and Art contest. Other years, teachers and school counselor use the lessons collaboratively as a springboard for introducing poetry. Our young men thrive with the NCDA contest theme when crafting different poetry styles and work through word choice, rhythm, rhyme, and figurative language preparing them for writing in the future.”
In Kentucky, Bowling Green High School’s College and Career Readiness Coach, Destiny O’Rourke coordinates a mock interview event for 60 students in its Medical Arts Academy, where professionals provide feedback based on a provided rubric. Beyond the mock interview, students complete an informational interview with a professional in the field and participate in a career shadow experience at a local hospital; they are encouraged to write reflections of both experiences to include in their portfolios.
Your Turn to Promote National Career Development Month
Now that you have heard how others are celebrating NCD Month and NCDA’s Poetry and Art contest, what you are you going to do in your work environment or community? Don't forget to promote your own career development. I’m looking forward to hearing all about it – leave a comment at the end of this article! Activities and comments are inspiring and empowering all year long!
Amy Policastro Schroeder currently serves on the NCDA NCD Month Committee, NCDA GR Committee, and is Co-chair of the NCCDA Career Development Month Committee. She recently served as Co-chair for the NCDA NCD Month Committee. She has more than 12 years’ experience in K-12 Career Development, in Middle and High School where she currently serves as the Career Development Consultant, K-12 for the North Carolina Department of Instruction; she is a licensed NC CTE Educator. Amy has additionally served as faculty with Illinois State University and the Community College of Morris, in NJ; she has ten years of experience within Human Resources and Education and Training for a Fortune 500 company. She is an active NCDA Facilitating Career Development Instructor, and a Certified Career Services Provider. Amy can be reached at APolicastro49@outlook.com with questions about NCD Month.