Why did you choose your career or current job? How did you get there? Was it linear or did you take more of a winding path? What do you do all day?
These are the kinds of questions our rising juniors at KIPP Nashville Collegiate High School got answers to during their recent job shadow opportunity. All 72 students fanned out across Middle Tennessee to spend a few days with a wide range of companies and nonprofits that matched their general career interests.
“Insight into your career drives the college application process,” explains KIPP Nashville’s KIPP Through College (KTC) Director, Emily Blatter. “There’s research that says students pick a career early on in their development stages, and while they still might change their mind, they create pretty formative opinions in what they’re good at and interested in early on.”
“We know a student who chooses their pathway or major interest before going to college is more likely to persist in college than someone who’s still up in the air.” – Emily Blatter
The Rising Junior Summer Job Shadow program began two years ago with Collegiate High School’s first sophomore class, and is part of KTC’s college readiness sequence, which begins in tenth grade. Each grade focuses on an aspect of becoming college and career ready.
“Sophomores spend time learning about professionalism, building a resume, taking personality assessments to see what careers might suit them best and researching careers that interest them,” says Blatter. “Our students dive deep into these careers. They’re looking at the amount and type of education you need to get to land certain jobs, salary and lifestyle and compare them with job growth projections and skillsets provided by the federal government.”
And the final piece of the tenth grade curriculum? A day –or a few days—in the life.
“We thought we should culminate this tenth experience with a job shadow experience where students could meet mentors in an aligned field and actually see what their days look like,” adds Blatter.
“One of the messages we share to our companies is we want them to give an actual day in the life. We want our students to experience real work and the real world. And we want our hosts to talk to our students about their career pathway.”
A few days on site can be eye opening. For Keonte, this revealed itself during a meeting he sat in on at Asurion.
“When I was on the product side, I found out the more social side of a business,” he explains. “Being in the meeting let me see how people can come together in a room and sit and talk about ways to improve things together. You have a team of designers that come together, and because they come together they get to work on different processes of designing something new.”
“I want to do something that revolves around technology, but also has a social side to it, so that side of Asurion really interested me. Everyone is doing their own thing, but they also come together and try to improve one product.” – Keonte
For Alex and Jayde, who have both always been interested in the law, job shadowing at the Federal Public Defender’s office was a chance to see that courtroom dramas on television play out very differently in real life.
“I learned so much here,” says Jayde. “There are a lot of jobs you can have within the legal profession and each job has its own theme, but it all works together. There are some jobs that you can’t just come out of law school and get – if you want to become a judge, for example. I also learned about the appeals process. I didn’t know you could go back and try to reduce your sentence or appeal your conviction.”
Alex adds, “This makes me really excited to become a lawyer, but it also got me interested in investigative work.”
“My hope was that they would be introduced to new things and that the law and specifically criminal law, would seem like less of a mystery,” says Federal Public Defender, Alexis Hoag, who hosted our KIPPsters. “There’s a depiction of criminal law on television, and I wanted them to have a more accurate view of how the system operates from the defense perspective.”
From healthcare, to automotive manufacturing and entrepreneurism, to law, civil engineering and life in nonprofits, our students got a small – but important – glimpse into life beyond high school and college.
Sharon Ramos, Staff Counsel at Asurion, offers this advice, “Keep an open mind about where your future might take you. For me, I felt scared to move out of the direction that I thought I was 100 percent going in and was going in for years. Now, I can’t imagine doing anything else. Take every opportunity you can to be exposed to different things. Just seeing what’s out there can always be beneficial even if it doesn’t have a connection to where you eventually go. And work hard.”
Our juniors will spend the next year getting ready for the ACT and taking another big step toward college.
Employers who would like to be considered for future student matches should contact Carolyn Pippen, Collegiate High School’s Dean of College Counseling, at CPippen@kippnashville.org.