Camp Careers: Let's All Pitch In

Ali Reykdal

During one of my lessons a few years ago, we were discussing community workers and I asked my students what jobs they wanted to have when they grew up. Most had been exposed to a few professions through their parents, but I realized that they needed more exposure to careers outside of their little world. Then, as our year kept going I noticed I would mention a career here or there and there was always the question of “What is that?”  There aren’t a lot of ways that we can start preparing second graders for college or their future careers, but a lightbulb moment made me realize that actively introducing them to different careers might be a good start! I transformed our classroom jobs from cute camping jobs that rotated daily to a community based system that worked in tandem with my management. Read along as I share my job system and how it works cohesively to build responsibility and career readiness in my second graders. 

The first ingredient in our salaries is to give them an opportunity to earn them. We begin with our Camp Careers. To build our camp careers, I’ve chosen 12 real-world jobs for students to have. Within these “jobs” their designated duties correlate loosely with their real-life counterpart. For example, the postal worker, is in charge of retrieving hall passes, checking for classroom mail and distributing papers. This helps students become college and career ready, by exposing them to jobs around them and even highlighting the unique aspects of each one. It’s also a great opportunity to talk to students about how different aspects of their personalities might make them a better fit for certain careers. My bright and bubbly student that loves to regroup and exchange Reykdollars is a great fit for the banker position! My wiggly, bright camper that needs activity to stay engaged, is a great fit for a job that keeps them moving all day, like being my assistant! 

Step 1: Career Exposure

Powerpoint presentation on computer screen




At the start of our school year, I introduce each career and we discuss at length what their responsibility is and what they do in the real world. After our presentation of options, students fill out a “job application” with their top 3 choices of a career. Students then take these home and work on answering two questions,”why is this their choice?” and “why would they be good at these jobs?”. This is one of my favorite parts because it allows me to see what students are drawn to and I love how it highlights their unique personalities. I also love allowing parents to be part of the process through the job application. This is an important part of career readiness, that tends to get left out in classroom communities, I enjoy having the opportunity to tell students that they’ll be doing this every time they apply for a new job!





Step 2: Job Applications

Next, I make a list of which students are interested in different careers and we begin an “interview” week. Throughout this week, I ask students to do different jobs and take notes about which students perform them well or which need to try another fit. It helps get them ready for what their actual job might be and allows me to have a conference with them about their preferences. It also gives me an opportunity to coach students and remind them if the responsibility isn’t there, they aren’t a great fit and might need to try another spot. It really helps them rise to the occasion! We also talk about how even in real jobs you get trained and have to listen carefully so that your job can be done well!

Student Job Application

Step 3: You're Hired!

Last, I do my hiring. I present students with the job I have selected for them and give them the opportunity to accept! With a handshake and a badge, they are given their jobs and we begin training. Students have a blast finally having their jobs revealed. The hum of discussion and celebration that happens between my students is exactly the fuel for our community that we need! This year it worked out perfectly, we were able to earn our careers on our school wide spirit week career day! 

Collage with a student-teacher handshake, student wearing hired sticker, and list of hired stickers with student careers

Students build responsibility through completing their daily tasks. This builds work ethic and also classroom community. When each student is expected to be a contributing member, they feel connected and involved in the community. When they complete their jobs for the week, they are paid a salary of our classroom cash: Reykdollars. This helps with the accountability, if we don’t perform our job, we can’t get paid. It allows me to manage my students by highlighting their responsibility and showing them that I depend on them. This has had benefits with students that may need intervention or support in both academic or behavior areas, because it helps them build self worth that can encourage a positive trend. 

This management system has become an integral and fluid part of my teaching. My classroom can run itself, which diminishes my stress while empowering my students. While the benefits within our classroom are great, I know I am also preparing my students for a road towards college and career readiness. 



Do you use classroom jobs in your classroom? How do you prepare your students for college and career readiness? Keep an eye out for Pt. 2 of this blog post to see how Camp Careers coordinate with Reykdollars for even more student readiness. 

  • Classroom Jobs
  • College and Career Readiness
  • PBIS
  • Student Jobs
  • Student Leadership
  • Student Ownership
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