Wedding Woes

middle school kids and mentoring

I have been working with Junior Achievement for the last couple of years in different mentoring programs. 

I'll be going to an event tomorrow where kids (8th grade, i think) will be able to talk to us about education, career paths, salaries, etc. Set up is job fair style, so and i'll be manning a booth for a few hours. With my background (education and work experience) I am in a good place to discuss STEM careers and education, commercial/business careers, and some jobs that require a 2 year degree or skilled trades (plumbing, electrical, plant operator, mechanic, welder). There will be a lot of other companies, so i can always refer people to other booths if i don't have any background in what they want to know. I did this event a few other times in the last ~year, so I have experience, but I can always be better prepared.

Questions for WW:
Is there any career/education advice you wish you had received as a teen? If you were in my shoes, what do you feel is the most important message that they teens can get? Did you ever receive poor advice from a mentor/are there topics i should avoid?

Re: middle school kids and mentoring

  • STEM = yes 100%! M is a huge advocate of getting more females into STEM fields because it's such a male strong field and often he runs into females who are amazing at it.


    I personally wish that schools had told us that it's okay to take some time and figure out what you want to do. Also when you do, look around at the market. Does that market require you to be bilingual? {my city does} If so, look into that language to help make yourself more marketable 
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    *Barbie*short+sassy
  • At that point, a job was like this mythical being that existed in adult land...which I was no where near, so I ignored it all. 

    I really could have used encouragement to job shadow or talk to someone about "a day in the life of a _____" to see if I was even interested in that thing. I thought I was going to be an architect with zero idea of how that happens or what they do all day.

    I was a good student, but I think the advice I a lot of my friends could have used was "your grades really start counting in high school so don't fuck up." 
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    *Barbie*MissKittyDangercharlotte989875sparklepants41
  • STEM = yes 100%! M is a huge advocate of getting more females into STEM fields because it's such a male strong field and often he runs into females who are amazing at it.

    The STEM careers get a lot of interest when the kids see the salary ranges on our different engineer handouts. I've had to share that a lot of the skilled trades pay very well (whoever made our handouts was at least 50% low) and don't require a 4 year degree (usually 2 years, a certification or an apprenticeship). I have a STEM degree (biomed engineering, minor in chemical and petroleum engineering, minor in chemistry) - but I've always worked in commercial roles - so even if the person decides engineering isn't for them in the long run, they have a marketable degree. 

    The district tomorrow has a higher percentage of lower income homes, so scholarships and skilled trades are very popular topics. I'll be doing this again in our district in Feb, but the demographic is a little different. 
  • *Barbie* said:
    STEM = yes 100%! M is a huge advocate of getting more females into STEM fields because it's such a male strong field and often he runs into females who are amazing at it.

    The STEM careers get a lot of interest when the kids see the salary ranges on our different engineer handouts. I've had to share that a lot of the skilled trades pay very well (whoever made our handouts was at least 50% low) and don't require a 4 year degree (usually 2 years, a certification or an apprenticeship). I have a STEM degree (biomed engineering, minor in chemical and petroleum engineering, minor in chemistry) - but I've always worked in commercial roles - so even if the person decides engineering isn't for them in the long run, they have a marketable degree. 

    The district tomorrow has a higher percentage of lower income homes, so scholarships and skilled trades are very popular topics. I'll be doing this again in our district in Feb, but the demographic is a little different. 
    M is a software dev and only did college.
    Actually one of his coworkers was biomed engineering, and decided to change her career.  He swears she's one of the most amazing devs he's met!

    Trades are also good. Idk about your area, but here a lot of the older gen is retiring and not a lot of people are going into trades to replace them :(
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    short+sassy
  • Skilled trades are ridiculously in demand in the US Gulf Coast - TX and Louisiana in particular. Like you said, a lot of folks are retiring/getting older, and there's been such a push for everyone to go to college, people are not learning trades. We pay premiums for skilled tradesmen (and women) - we'll even pay them to sit and wait if a project gets delayed because if we don't, they have their pick of other jobs. E.g. you can easily make $80-100K/year as a welder - even more if you're willing to work offshore or as a tech diver.


    short+sassy
  • I think for young people the most important thing to get across is DO SOMETHING for your education, post high school.

    I also think there is too much emphasis on the "only path is going to college".  For me, college was a perfect path.  But that isn't true for everyone.  If college doesn't sound like a "fit" or is too intimidating at the age of 18, then go to a trade school.  Especially for the skilled trades @*Barbie* mentioned in her first post.

    It's a shorter educational path, as compared to college, with in-demand work available.  There is SO much opportunity to make really good money!!!!  I do not understand why more people don't tread down that path.

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  • lovesclimbinglovesclimbing Alaska
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    edited November 14
    We live in Alaska, and with the type of stuff that's popular here (engineering, aviation, oil field work so other physical stuff like welding, maintenance, etc.), it can be super easy to get trade jobs! My H does not have a degree. He went to school and got a certificate in one of the above fields, and it's so easy to get a job! He's not trying to move, but he regularly looks at jobs on websites to see what's out there and there's always many job listings, some that have been sitting there for a long time. 

    What I'd tell kids is don't be afraid to work in the boondocks for awhile, and you might have to. I think the problem with a lot of people who complain there are no jobs is they aren't willing to work at the bottom where no one wants to be for a few years. I got a job (I have a bachelors) straight out of college because no one wants to go where we moved. A coworker moved there from the east coast, partly to do something different, but partly because she'd worked in the industry but never in that field, so she moved somewhere where they were willing to take someone with no experience. 

    I have a cousin who got a teaching degree. The big communities in his state always have more teachers applying than positions available. So he applied for and took a teaching job working in a tiny town where no one wants to go. It was easy to get a position fresh out of college. He'll work there for a few years to get experience and then get a job where he wants to be. 

  • 6fsn6fsn
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    I'm not sure how much an 8th grader will take in about career and loans and specifics.  I think one thing would be "it's ok to change paths". My friends 24 yo daughter is looking at a career change and her mom was stressing daughter said "why do I have to be just one thing in life?"  I loved it and it's so very true. 

    Alo ol do you have any sort of game/gadget that can pull them in? It may be too late for today, but a spinning wheel with questions and a prize seems to be a big draw whenever I go someplace. Or something they can manipulate while you talk to them. 
    charlotte989875short+sassy
  • 6fsn said:

    Alo ol do you have any sort of game/gadget that can pull them in? It may be too late for today, but a spinning wheel with questions and a prize seems to be a big draw whenever I go someplace. Or something they can manipulate while you talk to them. 
    We did last year - we had a photo booth with props and were doing mini polaroids. It engaged the kids, but unfortunately the pictures were crazy slow to print, and they were focused on taking a bunch of pictures and trying to cram entire cliques in so we spent a lot more time trying to wrangle kids and photos and props than actually talking about jobs or colleges. They had to get us to sign off on a post card this year, so I told them they had to ask me a question or answer one of mine before i'd sign off. 

    no trinkets allowed per JA. 

    Since we got really short notice for the events this week, the photos were out, but it ended up being more of an opportunity to talk to the kids. 
    We did have the handouts from last year that gave a job, salary range, education or training needed, and some fields where there were job opportunities. 

    I'd say that I met 5 or so kids today that were interested and engaged - they had some idea of what they might like to do, and wanted to learn more. Out of ~500, that's not much, but at least it's better than nothing. My partner (a mechanical engineer) seemed to be pushing everyone to mechanical engineering ("look how much money you can make!") - where i was focused on giving a broad spectrum of opportunities - e.g. "you don't have to go to college, you can go to a trade school or get an apprenticeship and make serious money as a welder." or "if you like science, and go to school for 2 years you can work as a lab technician or a chemical process operator - and if you do that for a few years and want to go back to school for a bachelor's in engineering, your company may be willing to pay for it." or "you could get an engineering degree but never work as an engineer - like me - it's a selling point for companies because they know that you're a good problem solver and critical thinker." I also stressed getting a mentor/job shadowing as they went into high school and were thinking about if they wanted to go to college or trade school - try to get exposure and experience in a field that interests you to find out if that's something you want to do for a long time."


    I appreciate the feedback. I'll be doing this again in early 2018 for my daughter's district, so will continue to use the suggestions. 
    MissKittyDangershort+sassyMNNEBride
  • @*Barbie* keep us posted on these talks :) I wish more schools did career talks like they do now
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  • @*Barbie* keep us posted on these talks :) I wish more schools did career talks like they do now


    Now that I'm thinking about it, there was none of that when I was in school.  Except for the military.

    The military came and talked to my classroom about their opportunities in both the 5th grade and the 10th grade.  In fact, in 10th grade, we were all forced to take the ASVAB.  Which is basically a military aptitude test.  It is also given to new enrollees to help determine what job they are going to be assigned.

    Sure enough, two years later as I was a graduating senior, I got calls out of the woodwork from military recruiters.  Praising me on how well I did on the ASVAB, they'd love me to join the (insert military branch), let's set up an appointment to talk.  Blah-blah.  Blah-blah.  Military recruiters, smh.  The "hard sell" salespeople of the U.S. gov't, lol.

    In high school, we would have college days.  Where different colleges would set up booths and encourage juniors to apply with them.

    That would have been really nice to talk to people from different professions in high school!  Maybe I would have chosen better, lol.

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  • GBCKGBCK
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    I always more appreciate your more open approach--because being forced into a narrow box when young is, IMO, never really the ideal answer.

    Last time I did one of these the thing that I know I touche don that a few teachers brought up w/ me later was me talking about relationships w/i work--apparently pointing out that my job is made reasonable to do by the custodian and admin--and man, do I make sure I"m on their good side-was like amazingly new news for some of these kids. 
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