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Preparing Youth for Career Success

As they become more independent and begin to focus on the future, adolescents will look for opportunities to explore interests, skills, and career paths. Identifying career and other future goals can also motivate young people to make healthy, positive choices here and now. Adults can engage adolescents in this exploration and ease the transition from school to the workplace by helping them acquire work readiness skills and connecting them to high quality mentoring relationships.

Curricula and Resources

Career and College Readiness Lesson Plans

The California Career Resource Network has made extensive lessons, educator guides, and student workbooks and handouts in English and Spanish available online. Lessons span grades 5 to 12.

Empower Your Future

This guide offers a variety of activities, games, and discussion questions to help young people discover new information and practice new skills in relationship to their job and career development. The curriculum was developed by Commonwealth Corporation.

Skills to Pay the Bills

The activities in this publication introduce soft skills. These materials have been designed with youth service professionals in mind — specifically those working on workforce readiness skills with youth ages 14 to 21. This resource was developed by the Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy with extensive input from young people.

United States Department of Labor: Youth and Young Worker Employment

Topics on this website include youth employment rules, educational requirements for a variety of jobs, and job training and placement programs.

Workforce Development Guide for Opportunity Youth

Published by MENTOR and the National Mentoring Resource Center, this guide presents the challenges that opportunity youth face (in their own words), workforce skills that can be developed, best practices for workforce readiness programs, and ways to strengthen a program's impact.

Career Exploration and Skill Development

Find more resources on the Youth.Gov website.

Resources for Youth

New York State Department of Labor: Youth Portal

This comprehensive website for youth contains information about the workplace, teen rights, career tracks, and workplace readiness skills, with brief videos on job search, application, and interview skills (including how to tie a tie).

Career Zone

This interactive New York State website helps young people develop their own portfolio of interests and talents and explore career paths.

CareerOneStop: Get My Future

This U.S. Department of Labor website offers career development tools for young adults ages 16 to 24, and helps teen parents, youth in foster care, and those struggling with addiction, a criminal record, or a lack of resources find support. The site also includes tips, worksheets, and other information designed to help young people overcome barriers, explore careers, access education and training options, and find employment.

Engineer Girl!

The National Academy of Engineering encourages young girls to explore careers and career paths in engineering.

Career Exploration

The Bureau of Labor Statistics maintains this site, which is designed to help young people identify areas of interest and future careers.

Youth Rules!

On this site, the U.S. Department of Labor provides information on teens' rights and safety at work.

A Guide to Public Health Careers

This Public Health Online guide describes a variety of public health careers and degrees, and includes links to helpful career sites.

Community Partners in New York State

Career Centers

In most New York State counties, the Labor Department's Career Centers offer information and counseling about job opportunities, training, career choices, and apprenticeship opportunities with trades and unions.

Local Workforce Development Boards

County-based Workforce Development Boards provide additional information about job opportunities and training.


The Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) provides career and technical programs for high school students and students with disabilities. In New York City, the NYC Education Department provides similar services: career programs, alternative paths to graduation, and programs for youth with disabilities.

Youth Bureaus

Youth Bureaus can help locate summer youth employment, internships, and work readiness programs. In New York City, these programs and more are offered by the Department of Youth and Community Development.

Cornell Cooperative Extension

Career exploration is also a focus of 4-H programs run by Cornell Cooperative Extension offices.

Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP): Adulthood Preparation

Federal and state grants may include PREP topics as part of a comprehensive strategy to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Grantees may be required to educate adolescents on at least three adulthood preparation subjects. Federal resources include: