The path from middle school to the career of your dreams can seem long and uncertain – but Heathwood’s Middle Schoolers had a chance to make that path feel a lot more concrete by participating in the 2019 MS Career Day.
Twenty professionals with jobs ranging from attorney to veterinarian to financial advisor to herpetologist came to campus on January 29 and spent the morning meeting in small-group sessions with Middle School students. Each student had the opportunity to attend four sessions and find out about everything from what each professional’s daily experience is like to what they like best about their jobs to what education and other training they undertook to get started on their career paths.
Hearing about multiple jobs was valuable in and of itself since, as presenter and business executive Don Tomlin pointed out to the students in his sessions, “You’re not going to have one job. That career model doesn’t exist anymore.”
The advice Tomlin offered—seek out jobs that provide work-life balance, are challenging and intellectually stimulating, provide opportunities for personal and professional growth, and give you a path for career advancement—was applicable to all, regardless of their specific professional interests. Other panelists focused more on the nuts and bolts of their jobs or on the paths they took to achieve their career goals.
“There is a great deal of research that has identified Middle School as a time when students can gain the most benefit from career exploration,” said Middle School Counselor Stacy Gross, who organized Career Day, “so we love to take advantage of this window of opportunity. Our Career Day is designed for students to learn about careers that they may be interested in, but also to expand their thought processes to consider career and educational opportunities that may not have previously occurred to them.”
Middle School Career Day was all about skills - hard and soft skills," said Middle School head Suzanne Nagy. "Students were given the opportunity to hear from leading professionals in the community about the work they do, the necessary education, and the effort it takes to be successful in one’s field. Students had an expectation to record their experiences in journals and reflect on what they learned. They were asked to practice being excellent audience members and how to ask questions to gain knowledge and clarity. In addition to those soft skills, students spent the afternoon learning life lessons: table manners, CPR, first aid, how to fold a fitted sheet, how to tie a tie, how to write a formal email and thank you note, as well as how to follow directions with patience while folding origami animals. These soft skills will serve our students well as they continue to grow into amazing people who contribute to their communities. There is great learning in the fun!"
Thank you to all the speakers who participated in this year’s Career Day, generously sharing their time and talents so our students can learn more about how to follow in their footsteps:
Robert Bunch, ’95 – Wetlands Consultant
Scott Wolfe, ’79 – Ministry
J McCathern, ’89 – JMA Logistics and Services
Betsy, ’79, and Ward Bradley – Attorney for Prisma and Trial lawyer
Kristen Ness Ayers, ’92 – Immigration Lawyer and Aspiring Writer
Anne Wolfe Postic, ’90 – Food Writer & Recipe Developer
Alex Postic – Criminal Defense Attorney
Childs Thrasher, ’96 – Civil Litigation Attorney
John Thomas –Veterinarian
Kelsey Sawyer & Margaret Deans Grantz – Directors, Camp Cole
George Jameson, ’95 – Financial Advisor
Virginia Cooper – Psychologist
Don Tomlin – Business Developer, Corporate & Real Estate Finance
Walker Sojourner, ’10 – Development Manager
Will Dillman – Herpetologist with SCDNR
David Kirby, ’05 – CPA
Andrew Wagoner, ’07 – Head Instructor, Genova Karate
Shannon Leigh Turbeville – Public Relations & Insurance