Make career exploration with your middle-school child fun with an interactive family-fun career night! An exciting time of imagining all the possibilities and passions one is destined for in life. But, where do you begin? And how do you help your child explore careers? The Career Clusters Interests Inventory Guide is a free online resource provided by Ohio Means Jobs K-12

What is the Career Clusters Interests Inventory Guide? 

The Career Cluster Guide is a resource for students who are in the beginning stages of career exploration. The guide provides students with industry choices like Manufacturing, Transportation, Distribution and Logistics, Architecture and Construction, Healthcare and Agriculture

Your student is able to select which industry they are interested in and explore the career pathways and occupations, aptitude and interests, required training/education, future employment outlook, and programs of study for that industry. One very helpful tool of the Career Cluster Guide’s information is the “Helpful High School Courses,” as your student prepares to enter high school these guides can serve as useful tools for your student when choosing what courses they will elect to help them succeed in their future career choice. 

Now to get started with Career Night! 

Career Exploration as a Family 

Explore career industries with your child with the steps listed below, this is sure to create a family-fun night of exploration and prompt your child to begin thinking about their future career. 


Talk with your child about the different industries available to them, listen to their interests and dreams. Review all the industries listed and provide an oversight of what’s included in each. 

Pick an Industry (choose a different one other than your student) 

You and your child will want to pick an industry; however, you should choose a different industry than your child, as this will allow exploration of two industries during the activity. 

Review the career printouts

Each industry provides a nice printout that you can review with your child. Discuss with them the different pathways they can take, what level of education is required, future employment outlook, and related occupations. In turn, let them do the same with the industry you chose. 

Address Questions 

Each career printout has overview questions, talk with your child about the questions and then let them ask you the questions from your chosen industry. Discuss similarities and differences in the industries. Prompt additional questions to help your student explore their choice further. 

Compare with Parents current job

Parents and guardians are one of the most influential roles a child has in their life. Even when you think your child may not be listening, they see the clothes or uniform you wear to work, they see your attitude in the morning prior to work and at night when you get home from work, they observe your conversations about your job and they pick up on non-verbal cues regarding your career. So, naturally discussing with your child about your career and answering the questions listed below and ones you come up with on your own can help your child understand your career and how you are in the role you are today. 

  • What do you enjoy about your career? 
  • What don’t you like about your career? 
  • If you could have any job in the world what would it be? 
  • What benefits come with your career? 
  • What is one thing you would change about your career?
  • What do you look for when choosing a career?


As your child grows, continue to repeat this activity throughout middle school, junior high and into their senior year when they are making post-graduation career decisions. The more your child is exposed to different pathways the more familiar they will be with their choices and the opportunities available to them. Also, repeating this activity will be sure to keep their interests top of mind as their passions evolve.  That’s a wrap on family career exploration night! After this activity, your student may ask additional questions from time to time about the industries and their future career choices. Be present with them and be honest. They’ll appreciate the time you put into helping them find their passion in a meaningful career for years to come. 

Feel that your child is ready to take the next step after exploring careers?  It is important to keep open communication with the school counselor and teachers about your child’s career goals so they will be better equipped to direct them in their pathway options.  Career planning is a team effort between the student, parent/guardian, and their school administration. 

The Workforce Partnership of Shelby County can help your child get a first-hand experience with the career of their choice through a job shadow activity. This allows your child to observe at a local company and experience real-life responsibilities of their selected career. 

Ready to schedule?  Have your child arrange a time they can job shadow through their school counselor, then complete the job shadow request form below (grades 9-12 only):

Request a Job Shadow>>