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Posts Tagged ‘careers’

Blog post by Reed Sandridge of Washington, DC

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Students at Let's Get Ready's Career Day in New York City (photo: Reed Sandridge)

Although his eyes seemed to dance around the room, I would later learn that Antoine was indeed paying attention.  Seated at a small table on the third floor of Robert F. Wagner Middle School on New York’s East Side, the soon to be high school junior’s mind was aldreay dreaming of places far beyond the walls of room 302 this past Saturday.

Antoine was attending Let’s Get Ready’s Career Day.  It’s a day that gives a diverse mix of high school students the opportunity to learn about a variety of careers from about 50 professionals who volunteered their time to share their knowledge with more than 250 young people who attended.  Founded in the summer of 1998 by Jeannie Lang Rosenthal, an undergrad at Harvard, Let’s Get Ready is a nonprofit organization serving communities in and around New York City and Boston whose mission is to expand college access for motivated, low-income high school students by providing free SAT preparation and college admission counseling.

“You think that one day I could have a job like you,” the young man from west Bronx asked me after I finished my presentation.

“Absolutely.  How are your grades?”

“Okay, I guess.”

“What’s that mean?” I asked him trying to get a sense of how he was doing in school.

“Well, last year I did real good: an A and mostly B’s.”

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Students took a personality assessment to help determine possible careers to explore. (photo: Reed Sandridge)

The 16-year-old, whose real name I changed to Antoine for this article, is one of 3.1 million young people this year who will be faced with the decision of whether or not to attend college after high school.  If you evaluate his situation based solely on drive, there is no doubt in my mind that he will go on to college.  He’s thirsty to know more and asked several excellent questions during the seminar.

I co-led a variety of sessions focused on helping the students understand their career interests through a personality assessment, interactive sessions about college, and tips on how to build and maintain a professional network so that they can land a job after college.  Originally I was only to be a speaker at the half day workshop, however, when their photographer wasn’t able to make it, I offered to stand in and try to capture some visual images of the day as well.  Click here to see the images I captured from Career Day.

The thermometer nearly broke the century mark that afternoon and there was no air-conditioning in the room that I was assigned to.  Exhausted and covered with sweat, I wrapped up my session and headed to the closing session in the main auditorium.  I got the chance to meet and exchange business cards (Let’s Get Ready supplied the students with cards that they filled out to serve as business cards for the day) with dozens of tomorrow’s leaders.

It was inspiring to talk with them and hear their dreams.

“I want to be a pediatric oncologist.”

“I want to be a social worker.”

“I want to work in television.”

“I want to start my own organization to help underprivileged kids.”

“I want your job!”

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photo: Reed Sandridge

After the event was over I stayed and spoke with several young people who patiently waited to introduce themselves to me.  I hope they all keep in touch, I will be checking in on them periodically too to see how things are going.  When the last student had left, I grabbed my bags and headed for the front doors.  Now dim and voiceless in the school, the heavy metal doors rumbled as they gave way to a sun-drenched sidewalk filled with the sounds of the Big Apple.

The success of Let’s Get Ready depends greatly on volunteers and donations.  If you would like to support this organization and help prepare our next generation of leaders, please visit their website and get involved!

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Last Tuesday was an exciting and busy day for the Year of Giving project.  As I went out on my journey looking for someone to give my $10 to, I was accompanied by a local TV news crew that is doing a story on the project.  I will let everyone know when the segment will air.

Another exciting element of Tuesday was that I was able to deliver some much needed clothes and shoes to Anthony from Day 67.  Maureen and Josh from PA sent him some shoes and socks.  Darnell from MD had sent me some items for Gregory from Day 71, but Gregory has disappeared.  I have not seen him for over a month and the local businesses near where he used to panhandle everyday say that they have not seen him either.  One of the items that Darnell sent was a brand new Tommy Hilfiger waterproof jacket.  I thought that it might fit Anthony and it did!  A big thank-you to Maureen, Josh, and Darnell!  Check out this short clip of Anthony receiving the items.

Then it was off to find the recipient of the day.  I headed over to the neighborhood of Georgetown and found Mariana.  She said she didn’t have time to participate and that she really needed more like $1,000 not $10, so I kept on looking.

Davenport, IA

Just a few seconds later I spotted a young woman waiting to cross Wisconsin Avenue.  Her name was Katelyn.  The 21-year-old from Davenport, IA, is a junior at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, IL, just 50 minutes south of Chicago’s Loop.  She has been in DC this semester as part of the university’s Study Abroad Program.  While here in DC, she has also had the opportunity to intern with Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Katelyn’s home state.

I asked Katelyn where she was headed and she answered that she was walking over to a boutique to pick up her dress for the Naval Academy’s Ring Dance, where her boyfriend attends school.  Let me stop and tell you that Katelyn has a beautiful smile.  When she started talking about her boyfriend and attending the Ring Dance, she was beaming. 

Katelyn (Photo: Reed)

I tried to take copious notes, but I may have gotten this wrong.  The Ring Dance is a special ceremony where the second class midshipmen, third year students, receive their class rings.  Their date wears the ring around their neck and then during the ceremony they dip the ring into water from all seven seas.  This is a pretty big deal for the midshipmen.  There is even a website that has a countdown clock letting you know exactly how long until the Ring Dance 2010 as well as the 2011 event!  If you were wondering, at the time of this post, it was 20 days, 6 hours, and 40 minutes.

Although Katelyn said she felt like she should do something greater with the $10, she said the money would most likely be used for lunch.  Her decision could have been influenced by the fact that it was 2:00 and she hadn’t had lunch and said that she was really hungry.

 I asked her what her thoughts on giving were.  She flashed her beautiful smile again and said, “I think it’s very important.” In fact, she was on her way back from volunteering that morning at Martha’s Table.  She also has volunteered her time at the Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center, and other organizations.  

After spending this term in Washington, DC, Katelyn said, “I have learned a lot about myself.  I used to think I wanted to go to law school, now I think I might want to teach English.”

As far as those who want to help Katelyn, she thought of two things that people could help her with.  The first one is that she hopes to go to Japan sometime soon as her boyfriend’s sister is currently living there.  Katelyn would like some tips on how to get good deals for traveling to Japan.  Also, with her recent thoughts on her career, she would love to find an English professor who would serve as a mentor to her so that she can better plan her future in order to realize her goal of becoming an English professor herself.  Please leave a comment here or drop me a note if you have any advice for Katelyn or know of a potential mentor for her.

As I left, I spotted John from Day 40.  He said he was not doing well and had just been diagnosed with Cancer.  Every time I have met John, either someone in his family has died or he has been diagnosed with a new life-threatening issue.  You want to believe people, but this sounds like too much.  For his sake, I hope the stories aren’t true.

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