Career Development

Career Development is the process by which students get to know their strengths and interests, learn how different jobs connect with those interests, explore careers in current labor markets, and build career planning and management skills to achieve their career goals. We all know the world of work has changed – a high school diploma alone no longer guarantees a decent living wage. However, one reality of today’s workforce that has remained the same is that everyone needs to develop employability and career skills for the workplace. A typical career path these days doesn’t necessarily follow the traditional course of high school, college, and long-term employment. Today, there are multiple pathways to rewarding careers; today, it’s common to anticipate several entrance and exit points among work and education and training throughout a lifetime.

Career development skills equip students to take ownership in navigating their own career pathway. The Nebraska Career Development Model recognizes three stages of career development. LSW school counselors provide the knowledge and opportunities for students to progress through each of these stages as part of our comprehensive school counseling program.


Self-Awareness skills refer to students gaining the ability to identify their interests, skills and work values. Self-awareness includes understanding one’s own mastery level of career readiness (employability) skills. This enhanced self-awareness paves the way to effectively explore careers and identify personal career goals with the best fit. At Southwest, our students take part in Self-Awareness activities primarily in grades 9 and 10.

Career Exploration

Career exploration skills consists of learning how to identify and analyze various career options in terms of what education, training, experience and competencies are required for success. Exploration includes learning directly in workplaces to discover what it may be like to work in different occupations. It also involves learning how to evaluate how well a career matches or fits one’s own interests, skills, strengths and work values. Career Exploration begins once students have identified their interests, skills, and values. For most students, this exploration is an ongoing process throughout the high school years (and often beyond!).

Career Planning and Management

Nearly all careers require training and education beyond high school.  Knowledge of a wide variety of post-secondary options is important for students and parents to realize.   All post-secondary college and career options have entrance requirements, application processes and financial aid or other cost considerations. Career planning and management is about identifying goals with the best-fit, then creating an action plan to accomplish those goals. All LSW students begin the career planning and management stage by creating a 4-year graduation plan during Freshman year. This plan is be revisited and updated at least once each year as students prepare to request courses for the next school year. This is an important tool that should reflect each student’s goals and should also be modified if goals change. Learn more about 4-year graduation plans by visiting our Academic Planning page. Students in grades 11-12 participate in additional career planning and management activities to prepare for their top potential career pathways.

Career Development Resources

Every student meets with their LSW counselor, either individually or as part of small group, on a yearly basis to explore post-secondary options, including aspects of career development. The following links are intended to supplement the work students as part of these grade-level meetings.

Nebraska Career Clusters – Experience virtual industry tours that provide a unique opportunity to get a glimpse inside Nebraska-based industries without leaving your home or classroom. No account required.

Roadtrip Nation – A place to explore interests and get careers, majors, and high school classes that match what they like to do. Students log in with a CollegeBoard account (free to create).

Career Cruising – Self-exploration activities from this site are started by most LPS students in middle school, but access to resources and past assessment results continues throughout high school. Students log in through the LPS Portal.

Nebraska Career Connections – Similar to Career Cruising, NCC provides students with assessments to help identify strengths and interests, as well as how those connect with possible career pathways. Students log in through the LPS Portal.

NEworks – Nebraska Department of Labor website provides current job openings and labor market analysis facts, employment, wages and projections. Also available as a smartphone app. No account required to explore.

EducationQuest’s Reality Check – Use Reality Check to discover which careers will allow you to afford your desired lifestyle. No account required.