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Excerpt to Curriculum- A Career Auction

Excerpt to Curriculum

Objective: To teach students that each career or work situation offers both personal and material rewards and that they should consider both of these aspects when they are making their career choices

Grade Level: Grades 7 through 12

Time: Three class sessions, plus time outside the classroom for research

Materials: Chalkboard and chalk, paper and pencils, resources with occupational descriptions, summaries, and briefs (optional, and as available from the school counselor or library), currency such as play money or paper notes to use during the auction

Procedure: This career auction is designed to be conducted over a week and consists of three parts:

  • day 1 - about a week before the career auction
  • day 2 - the day before the auction
  • day 3 - the auction itself
Over a week, each participant will
  • select several occupations from a list of occupations (compiled by the class) in their particular region
  • research the personal and material rewards of the selected occupations
  • hold an auction in which students bid on the selected occupations.
Day 1:
Getting Ready - Today's session will consist of the preliminary activities.

Tell students that each work situation (job) or career offers its own personal and material rewards, which are an important part of job satisfaction. Ask them to brainstorm a long list of occupations (50 to 60), and list the suggestions on the board.

Ask them to remove from that list occupations that are not typical to your region. (In Appalachia, for example, there are not many professional surfers.)

If any of these suggested occupations reflect gender-biased titles (such as fireman and policeman), change those titles to eliminate this bias (firefighter, police officer). The final list should consist of occupations found in your geographic region, with job titles free of gender bias.

Have each student select five occupations from the list that she/he might be interested in pursuing. Then give the students one week to research their five occupations and compile a list of personal and material rewards for each occupation. Give them the Examples of Occupational Rewards handout, which contains a list of some examples of occupational rewards as well as resources for conducting their research.

Day 2:
Getting Set (one week later) - Have the students discuss their findings about the personal and material rewards of the occupations they selected.

Have the class decide on

  • a mode of currency (play money, paper notes) to be used during the auction bidding
  • a bidding limit (minimum/maximum) for the occupations that will be auctioned off
    (For example, all bidding could start at $100 for any occupation with a maximum allowable bid of $3,000).
Have each student select and write on the chalkboard three occupations from his/her list to place in the auction.

Day 3:
Career Auction Day- List the occupations to be auctioned on the chalkboard or on a large sheet of paper, and choose one person from the class to act as the auctioneer. (The auctioneer should be someone who will be able to make the occupations sound appealing to the prospective buyers.)

Distribute the currency and read aloud the following instructions:

All students will try to buy at public auction a selected occupation or occupations from the list posted on the board (or paper). Each career will go to the highest bidder. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to express, on the basis of what you buy, what you'd like to be. Bid on each item based on how important the personal and material rewards of the occupation are to you. Think before you buy. No refunds or exchanges will be allowed.

Allow a few minutes for them all to read the list on the board and write down the occupations they wish to bid on.

The auctioneer will then try to sell each occupation one at a time by telling the rest of the class about the personal and material rewards of each occupation. The auction ends when all of the students have spent their currency.

After the auction, discuss with the students what they learned about themselves and others from the occupations they bought.

The discussion can focus on the following points:

  • What have you learned about the personal and material rewards that occupations can offer?
  • Are personal and/or material rewards important to you?
  • How did it feel to bid on your job?
  • Why did some occupations have a higher minimum and maximum bidding limit?
  • Were you as competitive or aggressive or assertive as you wanted to be when you were bidding on your occupation?
  • Did you feel you could choose any occupation regardless of your gender?
  • What differences did you notice between traditionally male jobs and traditionally female jobs?
Variation #1
Have the students research regional occupations as a first step before they brainstorm the list of occupations to be auctioned.

Variation #2
Have the students research their selected occupations by going out into the community and interviewing employers and other businesspeople. Have them develop a questionnaire or list of questions to ask beforehand.

Variation #3
Take the students on a field trip to the library or a federal or state employment agency to research their selected occupations.

Variation #4
Invite parents and others from the community who work in the occupations selected by the students to come to your classroom to talk about their jobs.

Adapted from Exploring Work, WEEA Equity Resource Center, Newton, MA, 1996.

Examples of Occupational Rewards Handout

Personal Rewards

  • recognition for work well done
  • advancement/promotion based on merit or work performance
  • a pleasing work environment
  • admiration from others because of performing the work well
  • sense of individual responsibility for work
  • supervision of others, leadership
  • increase in status and prestige due to the job title
Material Rewards
  • automatic salary increases based on time spent with company
  • cost-of-living raises
  • paid sick leave/paid vacation
  • paid medical and dental insurance
  • pension/retirement plan
  • bonuses or commissions in addition to salary
  • chance to purchase stock in the company
Resources for Occupational Research
  • public or school libraries
  • employment agencies (local and state)
  • school career education or guidance department

The above excerpt was from Raising the Grade, a curriculum about Title IX. It is available from WEEA in the Spring of 1998. Call 800-793-5076 to order.


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