Their Futures Await!

Created by: Mikki Hornstein, 2012-2013 Career Advising Fellow

Last week on Friday, I participated in a special Eighth Grade Career Fair at Hawfields Middle School in Mebane, NC. Caroline Smith, Eighth Grade Social Studies Teacher (and Elon alum), and Cheryl Williams, School Counselor, had reached out to me to ask if I would be interested in participating. Of course, I was excited to do so.

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Mikki Hornstein at the Hawfields Middle School Career Fair

As I prepared for speaking with the students, I tried to think back on my days as a middle school student – flashbacks of braces, acne, and awkwardness came to mind, along with remembering how carefree that time was. I DEFINITELY wasn’t thinking about college or careers yet. But, according to Ms. Smith, the Hawfields students had been learning about careers and different “career clusters” all year long.

In addition to having me represent Career Advising, other occupations that were present on Friday included: EMT/EMS, Police Officer, Biomedical Engineer, Forrest Ranger, Pet Groomer, Veterinarian, US Military – Air Force, and more. I have to say, I was a little nervous because the representatives of these careers had some cool equipment to show off to the students, whereas the majority of what I do involves talking. I mean, the Pet Groomer brought a poodle with her – how was I supposed to compete with that?

Well, I certainly tried my best. I started each presentation by telling the students that since I didn’t have any equipment to explain or things to hand out to them, that we were going to start with an activity. Then, I ran through a values exercise with them that we sometimes do with Elon 101 classes. All of the students had to stand up while I read off parts of a “job description” to them. I instructed them to sit down after they heard me say something about the job that no longer made them interested in it.

  1. You will be famous and people will respect you
  2. You will have to wear a uniform
  3. You will be on-call 24/7 (I had to explain exactly what on-call was)
  4. Your work may place you in danger
  5. You will not be paid

This is not the exact description we usually use in classes, however, I decided last-minute to do this and I couldn’t remember everything we usually include. Most of the students ended up sitting down by the last piece of the job description. They had some good guesses as to what career I was describing (US military, volunteer workers, missionaries, etc) and when I revealed that the job description was for Superman, they seemed entertained. I explained to them the purpose of the exercise. Did they want to have the freedom to choose what they wear to work every day? Did they want to have stable work hours? I explained how these were some things that they might want to think about as they explored different career options.

The rest of the presentation went smoothly. After telling the students about my own career path and how I got to my current role as a Career Advisor, I walked them through the responsibilities, a typical work day, what they needed to do in high school and college to prepare (and that graduate school was required), and the job outlook for the field (which took a little extra explanation). The students were attentive, well behaved, and asked some well thought-out questions. It was a great experience and I’m so glad that I was invited to participate in the Career Fair. As soon as I am sent photos, I’ll update this post!

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About mjhornstein

Career Services Fellow at Elon University

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