First Career Steps Survey Results: Building Confidence About the Future

In 2012, the Skills Library launched a survey called “First Career Steps Survey.”   Since the survey launch, over 2,500 students have taken the survey.   The original survey was shared with Massachusetts students through a network of career programs.  Since then, the survey remained online and has been “discovered” by many different schools, programs and individual students.  About half of the respondents indicated that they were directed to take the survey through their schools and community programs and about half indicated that they found the survey online when they were searching the web.  A few were referred to the survey by a friend or family member who found it online.   The respondents appear to come from all over the U.S., along with at least a few from Canada.

The survey is designed to be a positive, reflective experience.   The tone of the survey is designed to be reassuing, recognizing that career development is a long-term process, and that many high school students are just beginning to explore and set goals.  The survey takes about five to ten minutes to complete online, with the majority of respondents completing the survey in ten minutes or less.

Question 1 begins with an introduction and then asks respondents how they feel about career planning.  This question was designed to set a tone for the questionnaire, as well as to serve as a warm-up for respondents and provide a general sense about how confident, excited, or worried students feel about their career planning.

Question 1. HOW DO YOU FEEL when people ask you about your career plans? Do you feel confident, worried, ready for the future, or not-so-ready? DID YOU KNOW that many successful adults did not know when they were in high school that they would be in their current careers? Of course, many people chose a career path early on, studied for a particular career, and have enjoyed that career path all along. But for many people, careers evolve over time, as one career opportunity leads to another, and as they continually learn new skills and build their careers.  THIS SURVEY asks about your current career plans — with the assurance that it is fine if your career plans are continuing to evolve!!  Check all that apply —




vennThere is overlap among these categories. Not surprisingly, many students are both worried and excited…. both confident and excited….. even confident and worried and excited at the same time.

Are there factors that seem to be correlated with confidence and excitement about the future?  The survey goes on to ask about career goals, about career awareness, exploration and immersion experiences, and about confidence in a variety of career-related skills.  Clear patterns emerge:

* Students who have had in-depth career immersion experiences, including internships, summer programs related to career interests, and clubs and activities related to career interests, are most likely to express confidence and excitement in question #1.

* Students who have had more than one type of work experience — internships, after-school jobs, summer jobs and volunteer work,  are also most likely to express confidence and excitement in question #1.

* Students who took the survey through a school or community program (rather than finding the survey on their own) are also more likely to express confidence and excitement in question #1.

* Students who expressed high levels of confidence in their career skills in Question 6, a question that asks about career-related skills such as leadership, creative thinking, communication and professionalism, are also most likely to express confidence and excitement in question #1.

Question 6 asks students how confident they feel about career-related skills.  Students seemed to answer thoughtfully, providing a range of responses, showing in which areas they felt strong and in which not yet strong.  Like the responses to Question #1, these responses were strongly correlated to career awareness, exploration and immersion experiences.  Students who had had participated in internships, summer programs, career-related clubs and classes and other in-depth experiences showed the most confidence in these skills.

Question 6: How would you rate your strength in the following career skills?






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