Career Conversation Starters

American School Counselor Association (ASCA)

Career Conversation Starters are conversational prompts that can be used to help students clarify and build their mindsets and behaviors for personal, academic, and workplace success.

What This Includes

Skills addressed: Time Management, Self-Motivation, Organizing & Planning, Problem Solving, Goal Setting, Lifelong Learning, Critical Thinking, Technology, Self-Awareness

Program resources

  • Elementary-, middle-, and high school-level conversation starters addressing students’ mindsets, such as self-confidence in ability to succeed, and behavioral growth needs, such as critical thinking and problem solving
  • Questions and prompts for parents and community members
  • Postsecondary student career conversation starters for those entering college or university to help students explore academic options and assess their own learning styles and self-management skills
  • Employer and industry-based partner career conversation starters with workforce-related questions to address employability mindsets and behavioral growth needs, including ideal responses to assist interviewers
  • Promising Practices for Successful High School Apprenticeships book with planning guidance for group discussion questions and case study examples

Key Takeaways

  • The Career Conversation Starters address the mindsets and behaviors described by the 2021 American School Counselor Association (ASCA) Student Standards: Mindsets & Behaviors for Student Success: K–12 College- and Career-Readiness Standards for Every Student.
  • Academic advisors and career support staff in higher education can use the conversation starters with individual students or in workshop settings to help students consider their academic and career options, and to promote students’ academic growth as they assess their personal and workplace success skills, such as perseverance, goal setting, and critical thinking.
  • Employers and industry partners can use the conversation starters to assess potential job candidates’ employability skills, to mentor new employees, and to evaluate and coach employees as they develop skills, such as teamwork to work effectively in diverse teams.
  • Adult education program career counselors can use the high school, post-secondary, and employer or industry-partners conversation starters with their students to build students’ understanding of their own personal and workplace success skills.

The American School Counselor Association (ASCA), a national membership association for school counselors, provides professional development, periodicals, conferences, networking, and other professional growth opportunities to its members. In 2016, the Colorado Department of Education partnered with the ASCA to develop Career Conversation Starters. Additional information, including free Career Conversation training, can be found on the Colorado Department of Education website. In 2021, the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) published the ASCA Student Standards: Mindsets & Behaviors for Student Success: K–12 College- and Career-Readiness Standards for Every Student.

Adaptability & Flexibility

Critical & Creative Thinking

Digital Literacy

Emotional Intelligence

Leadership & Initiative

Navigating & Using Information

Respecting Differences


Teamwork & Collaboration

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