With a goal of adding value beyond school (VBS) throughout the curriculum at the middle school, Career Day for 8th graders seemed to hit that nail on the head. “Our goal is to offer good opportunities to learn about different careers and for the students to think about what programs they might want to pursue after high school. Additionally, the students will gain interviewing experience while being interviewed by one of 28 volunteers from the community,” said Angie Ward, SMS Guidance Counselor and event coordinator.
In preparation for the day, students completed resumes and cover letters during language arts. Students could focus on a job for which they plan to apply in the near future or gear their letters and resume for a job they might hope to get in the future after high school and potentially with higher education. With an interest in law, Jamie Lauck pursued the latter option. “I decided to write my letter to a lawyer because that is what I am interested in and plan to pursue in the future,” said Lauck. Students also practiced answering interview questions and discussed things to consider, like making a good first impression and dressing for success at an interview.
Career Day began with a trip to Northwest Community College (NCC) in Sheldon. While there, SMS students joined between 400 and 500 others from area schools, and attended sessions relating to their interests. There were many options with a wide range of topics, including Nursing, Law Enforcement, Photography, Construction and Child Care, to name a few.
Dakota Meyer attended the Construction session and was able to see a house being built by NCC students. Additionally, Meyer attended Business Management, followed by a motivational speaker, and said, “I learned a lot about professions that we can go into.” Other lessons learned included the importance of living with integrity, considering the types of characteristics necessary to be a good fit for different jobs and to be confident.
For Trinity Steelman, listening to the motivational speaker, Keith Hawkins, was a highlight. During Hawkin’s talk, Steelman learned that putting effort and hard work into education and other areas will get a person much further in life.
Upon returning to the middle school, the 8th graders were treated to pizza before heading to additional career planning sessions, a mock interview and an opportunity for Spencer Police Lieutenant, Kyle Van Otterloo, to discuss the importance of protecting one’s online reputation. Representatives from Iowa Lakes Community College (ILCC), Buena Vista University, Rosenboom and Salon M, spoke with students throughout the afternoon about areas that aligned with their interests, and the topics included Power Sports, Aviation, Computer Programming, Electrical Technology, Environmental Studies, STEM and Robotics, Cosmetology and Small Business.
Amanda Musser, Cosmetologist and Owner of Salon M, conducted the Small Business and Cosmetology session. “Today I am going to talk about being a small business owner and a cosmetologist in a smaller community, what it takes, as well as challenges and successes,” said Musser.
When discussing the preparation that happened prior to Career Day, Language Arts Teacher, Becky Koenig, said, “We spent a couple weeks writing career cover letters and resumes.” Students used information obtained from I Have A Plan Iowa, a program aimed at helping students discover their career path. Koenig explained, “If someone wanted to be a psychologist or a geneticist, they could pursue that. We have some kids that might need a job to get them through high school, so they could cater their resume and cover letter to fit their goals. I think it really builds into their process about what is important about what they are doing in school. It is really applicable. Since all students have a Google Drive account, they can save everything they have created, and it can be updated throughout high school. The 8th graders are developing life skills that they will truly carry with them.”