Spring is a very busy and exciting time of year in high schools! Seniors are receiving financial aid award letters and in light of May 1st, Decision Day, they are committing and enrolling in the schools of their choice. Juniors are beginning to prepare for their first SAT. Underclassmen are solidifying their footing and gaining a better understanding of their abilities and selves. Spring is also when Kensington Health Sciences Academy (KHSA) celebrates their annual 12+ Career Day. Career Day is one of the most impactful events facilitated by 12+ during the school year.
This year our objective for Career Day at KHSA was to create well-informed students, who will be more prepared to make decisions regarding future careers. Our day was jam-packed with activities including career presentations and a networking brunch for our PLUS Leaders. The highlight of the day, however, was a Career Fair that offered students the opportunity to peruse booths and interact with professionals from a multitude of fields. Students were encouraged to gain information about the different educational requirements and daily tasks for professions that interested them.
The 12+ team at KHSA recognized, during planning this event, that there were several misconceptions our students had about their futures which we felt compelled to dispel. Many of our students begin their postsecondary exploration with the belief that their chosen major must directly lead to a future career in that specific area of study. They fail to see that the transferable skills they obtain from general areas of study can lead to and influence the fields they enter post-college. We attempted to dismiss this misconception by having teachers and staff explain their “pathways” in provided flowcharts. From these charts, students were offered a visual aid to display that fields (in this case education) could be reached by numerous “paths.” Seeing that different majors and experiences could lead to the same profession was just one factor that led students to think differently about their future careers.
The other came from career presentations. During lunch periods, students were invited to listen to brief lectures from visiting professionals. A retired primary care physician and manufacturing technician each spoke about their path to obtaining the experience and training necessary to be successful in their fields. Students were engaged and excited to be hearing a true account of what the “real” world looks like from someone other than the 12+ team.
Finally, it was important to impart on our students the idea (well really, remind them) that the work you are doing now, in high school, can and will influence your futures. Some students can be too reliant on the idea that college is a “fresh start." Students are not only comforted by the thought of wiping the slate clean, but mistaken that their efforts and accomplishments (or lack thereof) will not follow them past the doors of KHSA. It is my hope that students ended Career Day with a clearer understand of different paths to various careers and also a reminder that each day counts!