Do you remember how you figured out what you wanted to do as a career? Yeah, me neither. I do know that I took a lot of anthropology classes in college. Not intentionally, I ended up taking enough to make a major out of it; you might say it was an accidental major. To be fair, there are careers out there for anthropology majors. Eventually, I was honest with myself, and admitted that those careers were a poor fit with my personality and abilities. How I landed in Chamber work is a story for a different time. But I can't help but think that, if I had had the chance to do some meaningful scouting around while I was still in high school, my career prep journey would have been a lot more fruitful!
Melissa Eigner, Program Specialist for the Chamber, partnered with local school districts and the Midland County ESA over the past two weeks to offer Career Search programming at H.H. Dow, Midland, Coleman, and Meridian High School sophomores. Nearly 1,000 students were served through the program, which was hosted right in the schools. It was designed to give students the chance to visit with employers and learn about the various careers they offer, including what education would be needed, what characteristics they look for in employees, what the job outlook is, etc. Students even had a printed "passport" which provided key questions to ask, which would get at those answers that students need to start narrow their thinking about careers. Many of the students will follow up this program by requesting a job shadow visit right at the business; another opportunity to find out what a job is really like, instead of simply reading about it.
Granted, Career Search is a comparatively short program, and students don't spend long with any one employer. But, having ventured into my current career "the hard way," I can tell you that I would have overwhelmingly appreciated even a snippet of a career exploration opportunity like Career Search when I was in high school. Some students walk away knowing they're at least headed in the right general direction with their career plans; other students walk away with the newfound knowledge that they no longer want to do XYZ for a career, because it entails something they don't like. Either way, mission accomplished!
Now, consider that Career Search is just one of many career exploration opportunities given to students over their last five or six years in a K-12 environment. Reality Stores, which is another Chamber program, is offered to all eighth grade students. Ready, Set, GET HIRED!, yet another Chamber offering, takes place every February for high school juniors and seniors. Students also have access to www.careercruising.com, which is now being integrated into school curriculum (the current-day online version of the old MOIS, or Michigan Occupational Information System, which we all took in high school, and then waited for days to get a short list of potential careers that suited us). Students can also take part in job shadows, or other on-site business visits. The bottom line is, students have a great array of opportunities to explore their potential future careers. I'm glad that they do, because I remember how hard it was for us.
We need businesses to help these opportunities for students. We make it as easy as possible for your business. Participating in these events is a long-term investment in our future workforce, that is true; but it's also a great way for you to look at your business from a different angle (how would you present it to someone else?), and for your employees to do something they'll really love. Our Reality Stores begin on November 18th, and we still need a few businesses for this turn-key volunteer program. Contact Melissa Eigner at 839-9901 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You'll be glad that you helped to avert an accidental career!
To reach Diane Middleton you can email her at email@example.com or 989-839-9901.