For the second time in my young career, I had the opportunity to speak to high school students at career day. Career day was last Wednesday morning at the 9/10 center at Coatesville. The first career day I spoke at was at Oxford High School a little over two years ago. The experiences were different to say the least, yet they were also very similar.When I was in Oxford, I was a very young reporter with less than a year's worth of experience under my belt. I accompanied the editor of the paper, who only had about six months more experience than myself.
This time around at Coatesville, I am clearly a more seasoned professional in my field, but still could be considered a novice with a little over three years experience. A major difference for me was not having someone with more experience than myself at my side to share the presentation duties. So I enlisted the help of Anthony Harkins, the author of the W.O.R.D. on the Street column on this page. Now, he doesn't have much journalism experience outside of the column he began writing for the Ledger back in October, but he made it easier to get our message across to the students.
As for the presentations themselves, well, we kind of played it by ear. Yeah, I shared the same information with each of the five classes I spoke to, but the way we shared the information differed depending on the reactions of the students. In some of the groups, not many students were all that interested in journalism, so we had to approach that differently than the groups who wanted to know more about we do.
For me, the toughest thing about talking to ninth and 10th grade students isn't weeding out the students who aren't interested in what I do, it's trying to give the one's who are what they need to hear. That is a difficult task some of the time. One of the things Tony said while we spoke to the students was that he realizes a lot of people write because they don't like to speak out. Many writers are shy, which doesn't help when you want to find out what they want to know and learn from you. I will say this; I truly admire teachers who get up every day in front of a classroom full of students who aren't always interested in what they have to share.
Speaking with ninth and 10th grade students about their future career prospects differs vastly from talking to juniors and seniors who are closer to that reality. I remember when I was in 10th grade, I didn't think about what I wanted to be when I grew up. Even when I got to college, I still wasn't completely sure. And even now, I'm not 100 percent positive about my future. So I know it is difficult for young high school students to know what they will be interested in four to six years from now.
The question remains, then, are career days helpful for students? I wholeheartedly believe they are helpful. If just one of the close to 100 students I spoke to were able to get something from what Tony and I shared with them, then it has to be worth it. They may not know now that it was helpful, but down the road when they are thinking about what they want to do when they "grow up", they can look back on the different careers presented to them on career day and think about whether those careers are something they might be interested in doing.
Editorial written by Ledger editor Nick Browne