MSMHS Students gain career insights in conversation with Young Professionals
If you’ve raised a teenager, or remember being one, you are familiar with the existential dread accompanying career and college planning. Stacy Herr, the Chamber’s Program and Event Manager, is helping her high school junior navigate the process, and she brought that perspective to coordinating a conversation on careers with local professionals.
“Kids often think they are locking into a career path for the rest of their lives with the choices they make now,” said Herr. “We know that just isn’t the case. Most of us look back on our careers with some surprise at all the interesting twists and turns.”
Marine Science Magnet High School juniors and seniors heard about career paths traveled by members of the Chamber’s Young Professionals and Leadership Eastern CT programs in two sessions February 19 and 23, attended by a total of 70 students.
In the virtual conversation, professionals not only shared their academic choices and first jobs, they shared stories about learning from mistakes and setting new career goals as an ongoing process.
“The panel members opened the students’ eyes to different job possibilities, the importance of building relationships and working with others, and the idea that not everyone has to take a traditional path to find the job they really want in life,” said MSMHS Assistant Principal Colleen Hardison.
The ten panelists, who joined students for one or both sessions, represented a broad range of careers in eastern Connecticut, or transferable to locations around the globe. General Dynamics Electric Boat’s Mike DiFranco was the only professional who said he followed a straight line from his college career planning to his job in engineering.
Highly transferable skills in areas such as effective communication, organization, and relationship building have been key to success across diverse positions. Panelists shared experiences from their different industries that draw on their talents and education in ways they may not have anticipated.
Networking, said these active members of the Chamber groups, is a key component of building a successful and personally enriching professional life. Living that belief, all the panelists provided email addresses so students could reach out with more questions, and further, offered to serve as mentors for students interested in their fields.
The candid conversation opened the door to discussions on financial compensation, the rewards of working in the nonprofit sector, and other questions students don’t always get to ask adults. As they engaged with panelists in the 45-minute sessions, students felt fears about making the wrong career choice dissipate, understanding career paths are not set in stone.
Anyone interested in hosting a panel or supporting career education as a volunteer on our Education Council, contact Stacy Herr, firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Thanks to Our Panelists
Jeremy Barstrom, Design Build Supervisor, General Dynamics Electric Boat
Emma Bayer, Supervisor of Visitor Services, Mystic Seaport Museum
Mike DiFranco, Design Build Supervisor, General Dynamics Electric Boat
Julie Gehring, Director of Mentorship & Student Development, Werth Institute – University of Connecticut
Kayla Hedman, Marketing Director, Fishers Island Lemonade
Alexis Kahn, Cash Management Sales Manager, Chelsea Groton Bank
Wilmer Lambert, Engineering Specialist, General Dynamics Electric Boat
Kaiser Leuze, Guest Experience Manager, Mohegan Sun
Heather-Renae Paul, Community Support Program & Mental Health Waiver Program Unit Director, Reliance Health Inc.
Konrad Poznanski, Draftsman, General Dynamics Electric Boat