Seventh- and eighth-grade classes participated in a two-hour “Round Robin” program on June 12 that allowed them to consider multiple career choices.
In February, Lisa Ryan, the seventh- and eighth-grade IMMS special education teacher, started the development of a unique “Career Day” centered on input from the students; utilizing local businesses and technology to help them focus their future. Her idea was to find out what careers interested students, then identify people to come in from those career fields and talk not only about their jobs but about the importance of education. Early on, a survey was used to narrow the areas of interest for potential guest speakers.
“It really opened their eyes to the complexities involved in what they thought were very simple careers,” said Ryan.
The results of the survey indicated student interest in all sorts of fields of study from mechanics and engineering to military and veterinarian. Ryan then went about the task, with the aid of a small committee of teachers and administrators, to find people interested in sharing their story and providing detailed information about their chosen career. Before that, however, she decided to add one more component to the mix to ensure that student interests were valid.
A range of careers included jobs like law enforcement, mechanic, welding, construction and HVAC. STEM careers were also presented, such as engineering, chiropractor, nurse and finance. Even diverse careers such as journalism, interior design and veterinarian were included.
As a precursor to the program, Christopher Gunter, director of community outreach and marketing from Rowan College at Burlington County, spoke to the students about different career selections on May 30 and 31. He provided students a 60-question career survey that helped pair their interests with careers. For the students, it was revealed that what they thought they wanted to do did not always match with what they were really interested in doing. The overall results of this survey energized the student population, confirmed the career list that Ryan developed and provided a catalyst for the presentations that would happen two weeks later.
During the recent presentation, guest speakers spent 15 minutes explaining what the profession was all about and provided critical insights as to the educational requirements and expectations.
According to a press release from the school, its students are now better prepared when they consider their coursework selections in high school because they now have a better understanding of the educational requirements that support the field they want to pursue.
“Career exploration days at the middle school level help to connect the importance of education and future career interests,” said Superintendent Christine Vespe. “It was a wonderful day, that was well planned and gave our students a chance to explore their career interest and connect with community members.”