I ask our visitors to discuss how education helped and failed them on their paths. I encourage our guests to discuss the role of failure and networking. And, mostly, I ask that they be honest.
This year's guests have been incredible. Our in-house visitors included Sadhana Ray, a chef/entrepreneur and owner of 24 Carrots--a vegan cafe in Tempe, Arizona, along with Shareen Islam, a software engineer/program manager at General Motors who previously worked on the goggles that helped spot Osama Bin Laden as well as recently helped to design a sound system for the Corvette Stingray.
Others have shared their experiences in person this year. One guest, Courtney Hambicki, a former student discussed her career as a Nurse's Assistant. The other, Dr. Ariel Cooper, a practicing Veterinarian made clear the role of math, and dedication to earning high marks in high school and college in order to attend one of only thirty veterinary programs in the United States.
Skype has made real-time interviews possible with a longtime friend and female auctioneer, Heather Quiroga in Denver, another friend--Christine Sorois, a journalist and community manager of a banking app in New York City and a friend in Indiana, Alisha Karabinus, who is earning a PhD at Purdue in gaming.
Students have been taking notes on things our guests have said that have resonated in one way or another. These diverse and wonderful folks have shared some commonalities in their approaches to the world of work--
Follow your passions
Be true to your interests
Be open to unexpected opportunities
Network, network, network
Aren't these beautiful themes? I think a piece of advice that I will keep at the forefront was offered by Christine Sirois--our NYC skype. She advised students to listen twice as much as they talk and to remember that listening is more than waiting for your next turn to say something.
Before our unit began, I worried that I might have frustrations over a lack of up-to-date technology. Happily, even though I had to lug in my lap top and Dale, from our tech department, received more than a couple of panicked phone calls right before a skype appointment was to take place, any technological challenges were easily met and dealt with. My only real frustration was that we had limited time to schedule those who expressed interest in visiting online or in person.
Our limited time is an easy fix too-- next year, I will extend the unit by at least another week. I may even introduce it early on in the year as incentive for my students to reconsider how education applies to their lives.
Overall, I find myself learning as much as the students. My greatest gifts from this unit are reminders about how much my friends who have never met have in common, how interesting they all are, and how lucky I am to be a teacher with students who choose to keep in touch and share their developing journeys with me.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how much I marvel at how technology has enriched and enlarged the reach of this project. I know it gets a bad rap, but I'm so in love with facebook--the place where I post for interested takers to participate in sharing their time and experience with members of the up and coming workforce.