Helping Students Identify Their True Colors: Career Colors That Is

By Clare Garman

For learning to occur, younger students in particular often need to experience learning in a way that is meaningful to them. Teaching about careers to these students can be challenging especially since the concept of a career represents an aspect of human development which is far off in the future and associated with something that is "adult-like."  The idea of a vocation or career represents a certain level of abstractness that students may not be developmentally ready for. Teaching middle and high school students about careers through activities and games may serve as the perfect conduit as students naturally like to learn while being active and engaged.

One game that can be used to accomplish this goal is called, "What's My Career Color?"  The activity is created to teach students about the six different career types, occupations that match those types and a student's own career type. These types are based on the Holland codes of personality type. According to Holland's theory, there are six main career types and particular occupations are matched to the various types. The main goal of this career awareness activity is to help students clarify some of their interests, increase their knowledge of themselves and related occupations, and to guide them to possible future careers.

Let The Game Begin!

To begin, students are asked if they know what their career color is.  Be warned, that you may have a lot of deer-in-headlight faces staring back at you or some "humorous" comments from some who may respond with "My color is fuscia or my color is black."  However, their curiosity will be aroused. Respond to them with "Everyone has a career color, and some may have more than one." Continue on with "This game will show you which of these colors: Red, orange, green, yellow, purple, and blue may be your color (s) and what occupations may best be suited to your interests and personality." Then add, "You will see that each of these colors match a particular type and these types say something about you."  The colors are:

  • Yellow (Realistic/Physically-active)
  • Orange (Investigative)
  • Green (Artistic)
  • Red (Social)
  • Purple (Enterprising)
  • Blue (Conventional/Business focused).

The interpretation of the colors are: Using my physical strength and being active(Realistic/Yellow); Using information, data, science or math in designing a product or procedure in making technological advancements (Orange/Investigative); Creating beauty through art, music or words (Green/Artistic); Improving the lives of others (Red/Social); Providing leadership to others, influencing others through words or actions (Purple/Enterprising); Order and efficiency, making sure things run smoothly and effectively (Blue/Conventional/Business focused).  After five or six questions, students sort their cards by color in order to determine if there is a pattern; several or all cards of one color. 

Presenting "What's My Career Color"?

Equipment needed for this game are a smartboard or a screen and a projector, a computer, about 25 colored cards in each color mentioned above, a pre-made Power Point presentation, and lollipops in the colors previously mentioned.

The Power Point presentation consists of statements regarding six different types of activities on each slide; each activity corresponds to one of the six colors/types with associated activities.  Students choose the activity that they like the best or can see themselves doing in the future. The first slide may ask students to select from these activities, for example:  (Yellow) Fixing things or playing a sport; (Red) Helping friends with their problems or babysitting; (Blue) Keeping track of a club's finances or keeping notes at the club's meeting; (Purple) Running for a school office or organizing a food drive; (Green) Designing, drawing, performing music, writing, singing; (Orange) Figuring things out using math or science, or learning about computers. After reading the activities students select the colored card that matches their best choice.  Then students move onto the next question, which asks students to choose what is most important to them or what is it that they value more than anything else.  Again, students have one choice to make from the six and each question is matched with a color. 

The final screen on the Power Point presentation contains descriptions of what career type the colors represent.  Students are asked if the description matching their type seems to describe them.  As a follow-up to this activity students can take a similar career interest inventory on the web, such as the O'Net Interest Inventory or another similar career interest test, in order to see if they received a similar career type or a different one. Students then see what occupations match that type and are able to locate information about these occupations.


Using an activity  which is not hum-drum or run-of-the-mill has the advantage of maintaining students' interests, participation and the retention of the information. The following represent some of the benefits of participation:

  • Drawing students in, getting them involved and focused, all the while an important learning is taking place.
  • Most times students are easily able to identify the activities that they enjoy the best.
  • Students are able to see that people vary in their interests and that there is no right or wrong type.

Most important of all is that students are introduced to the idea of choosing a vocation or career in an age-appropriate and engaging manner.  By so doing, counselors/teachers can rest assure that learning is taking place in a fun and active way. When this happens everyone is a winner.

Clare Garman Clare Garman is a career counselor at an inner city school in Massachusetts.  In addition to working as a career and guidance counselor, she has been involved in the area of employment and training for more than twenty years.  Her work has evolved out of a desire to develop increased interest in career development with students in high school. She can be reached at dmgarman@aol.com



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