On Wednesday, December 16th, at 8:30 in the morning, the tenth grade class nervously chatted and meandered outside the theater. At 8:45, the smartly-dressed kids filed into theater and listened to Sean Aiken, author of The One Week Job Project, reassure them that it isn’t necessary to have their entire life planned out in high school, and the benefits of taking advantage of the knowledge of individuals who work in the fields that they are interested in. In the weeks prior, the tenth graders had signed up to visit three different sessions of careers that they would be interested in pursuing. They also had a list of questions that they would be able to ask the speakers.
At 9:15, the first session of Career Forum began. In most sessions, there were three speakers, and the tenth graders were divided into groups of however many speakers there were. At first, each would take about a minute and a half to introduce themselves, talk about their education, and their career path. Then, for about eight minutes, each speaker would talk to each group, and the kids were able to ask questions.
Most of the speakers had similar advice: You don’t have to decide in high school, or even college, what career you want. Almost none had followed a linear career path, and almost none ended up with the job they had wanted at age fifteen or sixteen. One of the most fascinating and indirect career paths was Martha Braide’s. As a teenager, she wanted to open a dessert restaurant, but went to college for political science. She also attended a school for restaurant and hotel management. Then, someone offered her a job in communications, and now she works in communications for UBS. From her story, the tenth graders could learn that it’s important to embrace all opportunities, and not just the ones that could lead towards a job they think is the right one for them. Christina Tessaro, who works in international resourcing, said that it doesn’t matter what AP or IB courses you take, or even what you study at university, as long as you can show employers that you are able to apply yourself when you find something you really want to do. Generally, the speakers’ advice was not to stress too much, to see where life takes you, and to be open to all possibilities.
“It helped me decide what I wasn’t interested in doing, more than what I was interested in doing,” said Megan Willsher. Although the realization that in one field they are many narrower fields, and in that narrower field there are still so many jobs, can be a little overwhelming, most tenth graders found the Career Forum an educational experience. It is just as important to know the types of careers you don’t want to do, as it is to have an idea of what you do what to pursue. Many of their questions were answered, from what skills are needed for certain careers, to what the day-to-day operations look like. Perhaps most importantly, the students were able to meet and form relationships with people who are successful in fields they are curious about.
After the third session, the grade congregated in the theater for a concluding word from Sean Aiken. This speech touched upon Sean’s own anecdotes and advice. His message is to utilize all the members of your community whose careers mirror your interests, and that it really is okay not to have your life figured out at fifteen or sixteen years old. After a brief reflection, the tenth grade was off to lunch, brimming with ideas and excitement about their futures.
Katie Schupp ’18