At 11:45 AM, the Orfalea Downtown Center doors opened and the 2012 Cohort walked in with posters, presentation notecards, and a lot of nervous excitement.
Ask most high school students what they want to do for a career and you will hear Doctor, Lawyer, Nurse, or Computer Programmer. Dig a few questions deeper and you will often find their understanding of what those jobs entail is anecdotal; learned from friends, family or TV. This is one of the many reasons why, on Wednesday, February 26th, REACH students received a packet in the mail explaining their next challenge: “The Independent Project.”
Over the course of the next five weeks, with support from REACH Advisors, students were tasked with identifying a career area of interest, searching out a professional in that area, and interviewing him or her. Students then condensed that information into a 5-minute career profile presentation.
Students learned and reported on how much education was required, salary ranges, and the significant differences between seemingly similar positions, such as nurse versus physician’s assistant, or computer programmer versus web developer.
Students also reported a feeling of being pushed outside their comfort zone by the public speaking aspect of the project, and recognized that it was an important skill to master. This was useful feedback for REACH, as we develop the next two years of the REACH Program and seek to reinforce skills learned in the first two years.
At the end of the day, students left having successfully researched, presented and heard their peers describe dozens of career profiles.
Ken Gates is a Program Manager with the Orfalea Foundation REACH team.