A few of my colleagues from the hospital and I spent the day yesterday at the Career Expo for high school students. Three of us set up our booths in the morning and were joined by the surgical team and another administrator in the afternoon. In addition, there were employees from at least a couple dozen other businesses and colleges. All of us were there to share information about careers and answer questions. Over five hundred area freshmen came by during the day.
Most of the representatives had items to give away, enticements of sorts to draw students to their tables. Some of the kids treated it as a big indoors Trick-or-Treat event, going from one display to another to collect the freebies. Some grabbed handfuls of candy from the big bowls set out.
Being the Grouchy Old Badger that I am, I didn’t bring candy. We had plenty of pens and pencils and some tiny first aid kits (band aids, antiseptic & antibiotic). At her table, our head of radiology set out a big bowl of mandarin oranges. It was still full at the end of the day.
As further evidence of my meanness, I made the kids stand there and at least pretend to interact with me before they got any goodies. Most of them indicated they had no idea of what they wanted to be when they grew up. I met a couple of kids that said they wanted to be surgeons and a couple of prospective engineers.
Several of the thirty or forty that stopped by our table listened carefully and took time to actually look at the materials we had displayed. Large cards listed a few of the non-medical careers and the types of subjects and topics that related to them. For instance, under “Marketing and Public Relations,” I’d listed such things as writing, photography, journalism, graphic design and public speaking. “If you look through that list and think, ‘Oh, those are things I really enjoy doing,’ that might be a career area you should consider,” I offered. “On the other hand, if you see things there and think ‘I hate those!’ then you should probably look for something else.”
Watching all of those young teens finding their way around, I thought back to my own freshmen year. I didn’t have any solid idea at all of what I wanted to be when I grew up. I changed my mind a half-dozen times even after I started college. I’d focused on teaching by the end of my first year at Freed-Hardeman. I shifted stations but stayed in education for over forty years.
As a high school freshmen, I knew how to listen, study, get along with others, do my work and say “Yes, ma’am” and “No, sir.” Looking back over all these years, I’m not sure but what those were the things that mattered most.