Multiple Paths to Rewarding Careers and Happy Lives

Image of Young child reading a book with parents.

Many families say the primary goal for their child is a happy, meaningful life. An important part of that is a career they like, which is financially rewarding, suits their interests – and ideally – sparks their passion.

Start Early!

What we do today will help our children become successful in their lives after school. We play a critical role in teaching our kids they can do anything they set their minds to. Reading books, talking about careers and college, and asking questions to find out what interests your child has will all help them grow a successful future. When our children are young, there is no such thing as dreaming too big for a future career!

We Believe in You

In most cases, in seventh grade, all students are required to complete an EDP or Educational Development Plan. Ask your child about this plan and all of the activities and exploration they do as part of the planning process. The EDP is updated every year until graduation.

Start Conversations

Ask your child, “What do you want your lifestyle to be like as an adult? What do you think you need to have that lifestyle? What steps do you think you need to take to get that lifestyle?

Image of School Counselor talking with mom and daughter


If you want your child to be successful in the workplace, model things like regularly attending work, being on time to events and meetings, assigning home chores and responsibilities, and encouraging your teen to work outside the home when the time is right for your family.

Ask about pre-career and college options at high school

There are many opportunities for students as they prepare for career and college. They include:

  • Career Tech Center courses FREE to 11th and 12th-grade students that provide high school and, in some cases, college credit/course waivers/certifications.
  • Workplace learning experiences like internships, job shadows, talent tours, career and job fairs.
  • Courses taken at high school including: advanced placement, direct/concurrent credit college-level classes, and dual enrollment classes.
  • Early College courses that allow students to extend graduation from high school by one year to earn a high school diploma and associate degree, technical certification, or 62 college credits.

Encourage Your Child to Explore Multiple Paths

There are many ways to build a great career. Many successful careers get started with a single credential, like a certificate, apprenticeship or some college credits. Those can then be combined with additional training, certificates, college courses or a degree to support career advancement.








Check out our resources page for more information.

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“Stacking” Experience

Many successful careers get started with a single credential, like a certificate, apprenticeship or some college credits. After some work experience, those can then be “stacked” with additional training, certificates, college courses or a degree to help an individual advance in a career or move to a different one.

Through certificate programs, dual-enrollment programs at your school district, local colleges and universities, and our West Michigan career centers, your child can prepare for career opportunities in emerging industries.

Health Care

Alternative Energy

Information Technology


Advanced Manufacturing & More

Start the conversation with your child if you haven’t already

To take the next step, visit our Resource Hub.

View Resource Hub

Parent & Guardian Testimonials

Spark Success issued a third-party survey to understand how parents and guardians feel about career pathways in West Michigan. The responses were clear—we want our children to have the opportunity to explore different career options.

In fact, more than 90% of parents surveyed in the four largest counties in West Michigan believe that opportunities to explore different career areas early on will help their students decide if the career choices they are considering are right for them.

Headshot of Claudette Lee

REAL Stories

As a graduate of Central Michigan University, I raised my children with the hopes they would be well-rounded, demonstrate grit and be willing to work hard. When I was a child, exploring multiple career pathways was not an easy option. Today, I’m the parent of two children—a 26-year-old who is one year away from earning his electrician’s license, and a 17-year-old who is in her second year of a graphic design program. A self-taught entrepreneur, I own a dance studio. I understand and value the benefits of multiple pathways to career success.

Claudette Lee, Parent from Allegan