National Career Development Month : Celebrating 50 Years!

By Jessica Wood and Christy Dunston

Can you believe it has been 50 years since the National Career Development Month Poetry and Poster contest began? Time sure does fly when you are promoting a great cause and advocating for an event that helps empower individuals of all ages to start thinking about their career and life goals in a creative and engaging manner.  Over the years, the contest has grown as far as the number of state career development associations participating and the number of entries that are received for the national contest. We hope to continue this trend of increased participation and promotion of career development.

50th Contest Theme
This year’s theme is "Fostering Well-Being Through Meaningful Work" and is also the theme for the 2016 National Career Development Association conference in Chicago. What exactly does this theme mean and how can we explain this to others? Cynthia Marco-Scanlon, current NCDA president, described what the theme means to her during a recent webinar. Some of the thoughts she shared about the meaning of the theme include: a work/life balance, career well-being and enjoying your job and keeping yourself mentally and physically healthy. To help facilitate ideas related to the theme, additional questions can be posed that include:

  • What makes a career meaningful to someone?
  • How can we help our students prepare for meaningful work and purposeful activities?
  • What makes a person happy in a career?

These are just some perspectives you can present when promoting the contest to potential participants, so they have several different viewpoints to think about regarding the theme. Of course, the National Career Development Month Committee encourages creativity of all kinds, so generate your own ideas! You may get inspired by looking at the winning entries from last year's contest (found on the website under Quick Links).

NCD Month Webinar
Want more information about the contest theme, best practices and conference logistics? The National Career Development Month Committee created a webinar that features Committee Chair Lakeisha Mathews, NCDA President Cynthia Marco Scanlon, and Committee Member Jessica Wood, along with state career development association representatives. Click here for this brief yet informative National Career Development Month webinar.

Celebrate NCD Month through Advocacy
Everyone can participate in National Career Development Month. We have created a toolkit with ideas to help with the month long celebration. Below are a few general ideas for the month of November. More ideas for K-12, Higher Education, and Community Outreach can be found on the NCDA website.

Ideas for Celebrating:

  • Create a career vision board out of old magazines to reflect your career journey or ideal career.
  • Take time to learn a new skill for career and personal development.
  • Host a career open house where you can display career exploration materials and games for individuals to play.
  • Host a mindfulness session for individuals to relax and reflect on their career journey.

National Career Development Month should be a time to ponder all aspects of career development and the career journey. Career development is an important part of everyone’s life. As practitioners we should advocate for National Career Development Month, National Career Development Association, our profession, and our students and clients. We should reach out to our surrounding communities to engage in conversations regarding careers and the career journey, with ongoing dialogues regarding everything from career curriculum to employment statistics. National Career Development Month is the time to collectively raise our voices to not only advocate for our students and clients but for ourselves and the profession as well.

 Complete contest rules can be found in the 2015 National Career Development Month Brochure.

Christy DunstonChristy Dunston serves as an Assistant Director at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill University Career Services. She has six years of career counseling experience in higher education. She is a graduate of the NCDA Leadership Academy.  Currently she serves on the NCDM Committee.  Christy can be reached at csdunsto@email.unc.edu



Jessica WoodJessica Wood, M.Ed, LPC,  serves as the Employment Services Coordinator in the Career Services Center and as Adjunct Faculty for the Counseling Center at Lakeland Community College. She has over 7 years of experience in the higher education field where she has performed career, academic and personal counseling. She currently serves on the NCDM Committee and is on the executive board of the Ohio Career Development Association. She can be reached at jwood@lakelandcc.edu

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