Career Pathways and How They Wind

9, 10, 11, 12

Students examine the personal stories of various nonprofit leaders and relate them to the six Career Pathways. Students will discuss the ways that careers change throughout an individual's life as they pursue their passions. Students will also use the concept of passion to career to plan a service project related to something that they are passionate about.

PrintTwo 55-Minute Sessions, plus time over the rest of the term to carry out a service project

The learner will:

  • chart a person’s career path from biographical information.
  • identify local organizations with missions that matches the student's career goal.
  • plan or participate in a project to give service to a philanthropic organization.
Teacher Preparation 

Prepare handouts or have devices available for students to access materials online. Handouts may be turned into Google documents so that students answers can be shared more easily.

The teacher may do some preparation related to service projects in order to help guide students towards local organizations that would be availble to work with. 

Home Connection 

Parents should talk with students about their career aspirations. If students have not already completed and Educational Development Plans, parents should inquire with the school counselor about when those will be completed.


 Continue to discuss the benefits of competition and collaboration. Help the students look for patterns of when competition comes up naturally, when it is the best method, and when they can benefit from shifting from competition to collaboration.


Career Pathways Poster

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Number of Jobs Held in a Lifetime:


  1. Day One:

    Anticipatory Set

    Ask students to take a guess about how many jobs an average American will have in a lifetime. (Young baby boomers held an average of 11.3 jobs from ages 18 to 46.) Discuss and have students use their devices to look up new findings about how often people change jobs. Discuss what that means for them.

  2. Move students into groups of 3 or 4. Assign to each group a different person from the "Our State of Generosity" website to read

  3. Each students will read the profile to themselves using Talking to the Text (TttT) strategies (underline key ideas, circle things that they don’t understand, write comments and connections in the margins).

  4. After the individual reading, the students work collaboratively in their small groups to complete the first part of the Careers and Pathways Group Discussion Guide (Handout 1) while referring to the Career Pathways Poster (see URL in Materials).

  5. After all groups have had a chance to complete the Group Discussion Guide, one person from each group will report out to the whole class about their nonprofit leader.

  6. The teacher will lead a discussion, drawing out these key points: What are the 6 Michigan Career Pathways? Why do they call them Career Pathways? Do most people stay within the same Career Pathway for their whole career? Why is it helpful, as students are planning their own careers, to think about the Career Pathway, instead of a specific job that they want? How important is following your personal passion when choosing a career? Is it possible to be successful in a career that you are not passionate about?

  7. After the whole-class discussion, students should answer the final questions on the handout.

  8. Day Two and Beyond:

  9. Students organize into groups (3-5 in a group) based upon their career interests to begin to plan a service project that they complete during the remainder of the term. Students use the Service Project Planning Guide (Handout 2) to help guide them.

  10. Throughout the planning and action, continue to reflect with the students on how it is going, what their goals are, things they want to change, and what skills of collaboration they are using.

  11. Set up an opportunity for students to demonstrate what each group did for their service project. They share the process, successes, impact made, and what they want to do next. It is best if this is done for a public audience. The demonstration may take the form of a presentation, a display, a written article, social media posts, or other creative expression.


Students will be assessed on their completion of the Career Pathways Group Discussion, and their Service Learning Planning Guide.

Cross Curriculum 

Students will work in groups of 3 or 4 based upon their career interests to plan a service project. The students should do all of the planning by following the Service Project Planning Guide (Handout 2).

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Identify and discuss examples of philanthropy and charity in modern culture.
    2. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Explain why needs are met in different ways by government, business, civil society and family.
    3. Standard DP 03. Names and Types of Organizations within the Civil Society Sector
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Recognize and use a variety of terms related to the civil society sector appropriately, and identify the characteristics the terms describe.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Provide an example of an organization (or a service that it contributes) from a list of categories of civil society organizations.
    4. Standard DP 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Identify the major operational characteristics of organizations in the civil society sector.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.
    3. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Provide a needed service.
    4. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Evaluate progress on the service-learning project before, during, and after the project.