Media Study Guide

                                                    Planning 10 – Career Exploration Unit


At some point in your life each one of you will succeed at achieving employment at first job. There are a number of steps to go through before achieving this result including searching for a suitable job, writing a professional resume and cover letter and preparing for and succeeding at the interview. As an introduction to the Planning 10 Career Exploration Unit we will start by viewing the film The Pursuit of Happyness.

The Pursuit of Happyness is based on the true story of Chris Gardner (Will Smith), a bright and talented marginally employed salesman. Struggling to make ends meet, Gardner finds himself and his five-year-old son evicted from their San Francisco apartment with nowhere to go. When Gardner lands an internship at a prestigious stock brokerage firm, he and his son endure many hardships, including living in shelters, in pursuit of a better life for the two of them. (Ward, 2007)

Learning outcomes & Key Concept:

The Pursuit of Happyness highlights many of the topics discussed during the Planning 10 Career Exploration Unit. The expected learning outcomes from viewing this film and participating in the related activities are that the students will become introduced to and familiar with the below terms and gain experience with the interview process as they participate in filmed mock interviews. The students are also expected to gain a solid understanding of what the 8 Focus Areas in the Graduation Program are and what post secondary education, training and employment opportunities exist in these Focus Areas.  Furthermore, by participating in the Sources For Further Study the students will learn how to write a professional resume and cover letter.

v  Focus Areas

v  Resume & Cover letters

v  Interviews

v  Employment Opportunities

v  Education and training

v  Work Ethic


Focus Questions:

Prior to viewing the film take 5 minutes to think about what the below terms mean to you. Then as a class share your answers:

Happiness Poverty Family
Home Dreams Employment
Money Success Hard   work

To be discussed in groups of 2-3 students after viewing the film:

1.)    What are some of the challenges Chris Gardner faced when trying to sell his bone density scanners?


2.)    Chris faced many challenges during the movie, yet he still achieved many of his goals. Describe a minimum of three decisions he made or behaviors/personality traits that he demonstrated that helped him reach his goals. Use specific examples from the movie to support the decisions you think were


3.)    What were three financial decisions that Chris made during the Pursuit of Happyness and describe the consequences that resulted




4.)    During the interview at Dean Witter, Martin Froh asked Chris “ what would you say if a guy walked in for an interview without a shirt on and I hired him! What would you say? What was Chris’s response?



5.)    If you were in Chris’s position would you have attended the interview covered in paint? Why or why not? What did this show about Chris’s drive?


6.)    Chris’s resume highlights that he was first in his senior class. When items should be included on a resume and what should you highlight?


7.)    At the end of the film we learn that Chris became a multimillion and successful stockbroker. In your opinion what made Chris the happiest?




“You want something. You go get it. Period.” (Chris Gardner)


Activity #1

Focus Areas are designed to help you learn about the broad range of education and career choices. They also help you choose an area of interest or several areas of interest for you to pursue during the high school Graduation Program. Based on your own interests and aptitudes, you will concentrate your studies in one or more of the following Focus Areas:

v  Business and Applied Business

v  Fine Arts, Design and Media

v  Fitness and Recreation

v  Health and Human Services

v  Liberal Arts and Humanities

v  Science and Applied Science

v  Tourism, Hospitality and Foods

v  Trades and Technology

At one point in the film Chris is walking in the financial district and sees a stockbroker parking a luxurious car. Chris turns to the man and says “ I have two questions for you what do you do and, how do you do it?’ The man replies I’m a stockbroker. Chris asks the stockbroker if you have to go to college to become a stockbroker and the man replies “You don’t have to. You have to be good with numbers and good with people.

Discuss with a partner what Focus Area you think Chris would fit best into and list as many courses as you can that are offered at our school that would fit into Chris’s Focus Area.

Now visit to learn about all the different Focus Areas. After reviewing the documents choose 1 Focus Area and using your desktop publishing skills ( Photoshop, MS Word, Indesign or MS Publisher) create a 1 page  flyer that  summaries your Focus Area. The flyers will be displayed in our classroom to help students learn about the different Focus Areas therefore the flyer should be informational in nature and include:

v  Skills and Internets

v  11/12 required and elective courses

v  Employment options

v  Post secondary training options

Activity #2

As we viewed in the film the interview process can often be very nerve racking and sometimes we are asked questions that catch us off guard e.g. when Martin Froh asked Chris “ what would you say if a guy walked in for an interview without a shirt on and I hired him! What would you say?

The best way to prepare for an interview is to practice. Therefore, in partners we are going film mock interviews. Each of you will get the chance to be pretend to be the employer and the job candidate.  Take this exercise seriously as we are going to post your interviews on the class blog for feedback.

Below is a list of common questions you may be asked in the interview. Choose 8 questions to ask your partner.

  1. Why Are You Interested in Working for Our Company?
  2. How Has School Prepared You For Working at Our Company?
  3. What Do You Think It Takes to be Successful in This Position?
  4. How Would You Describe Your Ability To Work as a Team Member?
  5. What Has Been Your Most Rewarding Accomplishment
  1. What      is your greatest strength?
  2. What      is your greatest weakness?
  3. How      do you handle stress and pressure?
  4. Describe      a difficult work situation / project and how you overcame it.
  5. Why      should we hire you?
  6. Tell      me about yourself.
  7. When are you available to work this summer? When could      you start and when do you need to return to school?
  8. What days and hours are you available each week?
  9. Do you have any activities that would prevent you from      working your schedule?
  10. If you have worked before, what did you like best about your      last job?
  11. Do you have      references I can contact?

Below is a list of questions you may want to ask the employer/interviewer. Choose 3 to ask.

  1. How would you describe the responsibilities of the position?
  2. How would you describe a typical week/day in this position?
  3. What is the typical work week? Is overtime expected?
  4. Does this job allow for flexible hours or part time work?
  5. If I am extended a job offer, how soon would you like me to start?
  6. What advancement opportunities are available for the person who is successful in this position?
  7. What kind of training is provided for this position?
  8. What are some of the objectives you would like to see accomplished in this job?

As many teenagers get hired to work in retail for their first job choose either, SportCheck, McDonalds, Tim Hortons or Chapters for your mock interviews. After you have chosen your questions and practiced being both the interviewer and interviewee come and sign out a camera from Mr. Campbell and film your mock interview. Next post your mock interview to your class blog for student and teacher feedback.

Sources for Further Study:
For additional practice with interviewing visit  and click on the below item and view the answers to the commonly asked interview questions.

v  High School Job Interview Questions and Answers

v  Entry Level Interview Questions and Answers

v  Summer Job Interview Questions and Answers

v  College Job Interview Questions and Answers

To learn more about questions not to ask at interviews visit:

A professional resume and cover letter are a prerequisite when applying for a job. Visit the links below to learn about what to include in a resume and how to structure your cover letter.

After reviewing the website for practice write a resume as if you were applying for an entry level customer service position at McDonalds,


Ward. R, (2007). The Pursuit of Happyness – discussion guide. Retrieved from:

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