Finding 21st Century Careers


Common Core Anchor Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.


We are asked many times what we want to be when we grow up. The standard answers, “a doctor,” “a teacher,” “a fireman” are fantastic, because that is what so many kids are familiar with. But what about other careers? Those that involve science or engineering? Do students know that there are other careers available to them as they progress through life? How many students answer “Electromechanical Engineer”? Do students know what options await them as adults? Perhaps a research project is in order? What a great way to utilize reading and writing in the content areas!


Common Core standards call for students to be college and career ready, and isn’t a part of that knowing what options you have available to you in college and career? The writing standards call for students to conduct research. Standard 8 specifically deals with finding and using information. Here are some lesser known search strategies/engines you may wish to use with your students.


Keyword Searching

When conducting research, one of the key things that students don’t realize is that keywords are far more effective at returning results than “natural language” searches. Sorting through information from natural language searches can be daunting. Helping students identify what the keywords in their questions are is an invaluable lesson. If my question is “What types of careers are available in science?” I really want to focus on the important words: career, science. The other words can confuse the results. How can you talk to your students about developing keywords?


Advanced Searches


Using Google’s Advanced Search feature can help students construct a query that will return the results they need. By including “all of these words” and “any of these words” searches, they can bring back more specific results.


I can’t stop myself from mentioning Google Scholar. What Google Scholar does is take your search query, and return only results from academic, peer reviewed sources. Many of the results are just abstracts, but what a great starting point to ensure students are using quality sources!


Alternate Search Tools

Here comes the fun part for me! Let’s talk about some search engines you may not have seen before. Despite the fact that “Google” has become synonymous with “search,” there are other search tools available that students may actually find helpful when conducting research.


Have you heard of Instagrok? By far my favorite search engine when just starting the research process.  It’s a visual search tool that helps students narrow and refine their topic. It offers key facts, websites, videos and more. Students can adjust the difficulty of the materials returned, and can see related categories in a thinking map format. They can also create an account and save their searches and notes!


Quintura Kids offers a tag cloud visualization, as well as images that can be clicked. When a search is conducted, a tag cloud appears at the top of the results page, so students can narrow their query to related topics and ideas just by clicking on the tag. This is definitely geared toward younger students.


Specifically related to our aim of exploring careers in science and engineering, the US Department of Labor offers the My Next Move tool, which allows individuals to search careers based on industry, keywords and interests. Although still in it’s early stages, this is a great tool to get a quick snapshot of career opportunities.


Career Path also offers a job discovery wizard, which allows individuals to choose skills that they have, and search for jobs in specific fields, such as Engineering and Technology or Physics. An interesting way to search for careers based on personality traits.


I’ve given you two of my favorite search engines, and some tools to explore careers with your students. What are your favorite search engines to use with students? How might you explore careers with your students?