Students may have general knowledge about an occupation, but seeing it in person is a whole different experience. Experiencing the sights and sounds of the workplace, and in some cases even the smell, can be a clue into the “fit” of an industry or occupation. Perhaps a student loves to cook, but the chaotic nature of a busy kitchen doesn’t match up to their personality type. Sometimes seeing the trendy decor in a brand new office space is enough to inspire a young person to explore interior design or help them discern that the corporate environment is, or isn’t, for them. The smell of freshly cut wood can even be a clue to move forward with exploration.
More than a simple field trip or site visit, an Industry Tour is designed and structured to meet specific career development learning outcomes, be educationally rich, and build awareness of the business, its industry sector, its role in the economy. In addition to a tour of the workplace, which is focused on an explanation of the culture, equipment, roles, and industry, the event also includes a career conversation with a variety of staff. They share their own career paths, brief descriptions, and often demonstrations of their work. Students are encouraged to ask their questions throughout the visit. Industry Tours are an important career exploration activity and give students a behind-the-scenes view of a workplace, resulting in valuable insights as they self-assess and make decisions.We often say that “Students can’t be it, if they don’t see it”. So let’s help them see it!
- For a great industry tour opportunity, check out Discover Manufacturing Week
8 Reasons Industry Tours Help Students Become College and Career Ready
Industry tours are typically 60-90 minute experiences that include a workplace tour and intentional career conversations with a variety of professionals.
Industry Tours offer many benefits to students, including:
- Provides career exposure to students, broadening their ideas of what is possible. Not all students have the opportunity or support to explore careers through family outings, summer camps or extracurricular activities. Industry Tours, coordinated by school, gives ALL students the opportunity to have their minds opened to new ideas and potential careers.
- Provides valuable insights into the real working environment of an industry. Students often have limited understanding of what really happens at workplaces around their community. They access their career information through parents, friends and media. Media sources often offer glamorized views of careers, including incomplete or misinformation. This contributes to perpetuating myths about some industries or occupations. Industry tours provide the opportunity to get accurate information directly from the employers, helping students make choices on
- Deepens their understanding of the demands, rewards, and challenges of a chosen career Hearing directly from professionals in their workplaces provides students the opportunity to learn about the positives and negatives of a career. This allows students to discern their own “fit” and helps them make the important decisions needed for their future. Hearing a professional talk about their own success stories, or examples of situations that needed perseverance, can make a big impact.
- Provides valuable information directly from employers about what they are looking for in their future talent What can be better than having an employer tell you exactly what they are looking for in their future employees, and the steps it takes to get there? These conversations often reinforce the skills that schools are teaching, especially when it comes to things like critical thinking, flexibility, communication and teamwork. Often, employers will share the concrete skills, grade points, or types of experiences they hope students will pursue, making them attractive candidates.
- Helps students understand the connection between school, work, and their goals for the future During Industry Tours, prepared employers will help make connections for students into the “why” they are in school, and how it connects to the world of work. This outcome of Industry Tours can be the most valuable, as it creates relevance for students, resulting in higher motivation to persevere through their K-12 education.
- Assists in developing student’s professional communication skills Teachers and parents can teach and model good communication skills, but when students interact with professionals in the workplace, it seems to make a bigger impact. Seeing teamwork, public speaking, or an example of report writing, helps young people see the importance of the skills they are learning. Being able to practice hand shakes, eye contact, and other networking skills is also invaluable.
- Meets the state requirements for workplace learning experiences The State of Michigan wants students to be college and career ready. They have implemented requirements for all students to have work based learning experiences like job shadows, tours and internships. Taking students out to local businesses for the valuable tours and career conversations meets these requirements.
- Helps students see their future place in the world of work Students love meeting adults in the workplace. It gives them a sense of what their future could look like. They hear examples of how adults moved from high school to their career, which helps students start to map out their own path. Industry Tours make a big difference in the career development journey for students by helping them visualize their own futures
Employer Industry Tour Information Packet
Kent ISD has developed the Industry Tour Information Packet to provide information to coordinate and plan an Industry Tour. It highlights logistics to consider, best practices and sample questions. There are many details to consider when taking students out of the building, but this resource will break it down into manageable tasks. The benefits of getting students out into industry are worth the time and effort it takes to plan.
Our team can help make connections between schools and employers. Please reach out to discuss your interest in planning or hosting a local Industry Tour. We will work with you to facilitate a valuable career exploration event for local students.
Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kent ISD Career Readiness supports local districts interested in developing Industry Tours as part of their career readiness objectives. Please contact the Kent ISD Career Readiness team for more information: