CS Journeys
Exploring Computer Science Careers with Younger Students

Boy role plays as an astronaut.

Structured career exploration often doesn’t take place until kids are in middle school or even later. The problem with starting so late is that students self-select themselves out of career paths as early as age 6 or 7, and they do so based on stereotypes around gender, race, and class. These conceptions are surprisingly sturdy — research shows they don’t change much until students are out of high school, at which point it can be difficult to pivot.

Educators can help structure career exploration for children by exposing them to a vast range of careers, taking special care to refute stereotypes around who can do what.

See below for research-informed suggestions on structuring younger students’ career exploration.

Expose students to different careers and community roles

By exposing students to a diverse collection of community members who use computer science in their careers, you can both dispel stereotypes they may hold unconsciously and make sure they’re not self-selecting out of CS for a lack of role models.

Careers with Computer Science videos

Careers with CS videos

Check out these video profiles featuring tech professionals making art, exploring the ocean, and more.

CS Adventures: Virtual Field Trips

Field trips

Sign your classroom up for live or self-paced virtual field trips with NASA, Amazon, and Monterey Bay Aquarium!

My Journey Chats

My Journey Class Chats

Learn about different jobs with these chats with young, diverse professionals.

[Back to top]

Make time for fun activities that enable students to imagine different careers

Children experience the world through play. Guide their exploration with these activity suggestions.

  • Create your ‘future self’ avatar in Sprite Lab. Have students create their own future selves in Sprite Lab. Encourage them to program a short scene from a ‘day in the life’ of their grown-up self. (Ages 10+)
  • Career Vision Boards. Students use poster board or Sprite Lab to create a career vision board, a collage of their hopes and expectations for when they grow up. Collages can include drawings, words and pictures. (Poster board version appropriate for pre-readers and up. Sprite Lab version appropriate for ages 9+)
  • O*Net Career Exploration tool. Give students time to explore different careers using O*Net. Note that O*Net contains hundreds of careers that can be searched for in a number of ways. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the tool and decide the most appropriate way for your students to use it. (Ages 9+)

[Back to top]

Encourage your students

Did you know: if a parent or teacher tells a student they’d be good at a subject, that student is two to three times more likely to stick with that subject!

Use our ‘Letters Home’ email templates to touch base with parents, making them aware of what their children are learning in your classroom and encouraging them to be curious and encouraging of their child’s new CS knowledge!

[Back to top]

Make parents aware of extracurricular activities that enhance student learning

Extracurricular activities and programs like hackathons and coding clubs reinforce classroom learning and are often powerful motivators for students, especially girls. Encourage parents to get their children involved with one or more of the opportunities below.

Clubs and afterschool activities


A global network of free, volunteer-led, community-based programming clubs for young people. Anyone aged 7-17 can visit a Dojo where they can learn to code, build a website, create an app or a game, and explore technology in an informal, creative, and social environment.

Girls Who Code

Clubs are free after-school programs for 3rd-5th grade girls to join our sisterhood of supportive peers and role models using computer science to change the world. Find one to join in your local area at girlswhocode.com/locations

Black Girls CODE

Workshops and afterschool programs introduce girls of color aged 7-17 to basic programming skills in languages like Scratch and Ruby on Rails. View programs and events here.

Hackathons and competitions

Coolest Projects

Coolest Projects online is the world’s leading technology showcase for young people. Whether your project is a work in progress, a prototype, or completely finished, you can join in! Entry is free, and open to anyone up to the age of 18.

Technovation Challenge

With the support of volunteer mentors, girls work in teams to code mobile apps that address real-world problems. Open to girls and young women ages 10-18.

[Back to top]