Students Gain Insights into Potential Career Paths
If you went to college you are likely familiar with the dreaded prospect of “declaring a major.” As an 18 or 19 year old, you are suddenly forced into a choice of pursuing an education focused more specifically on what you will do “for the rest of your life.” If you are like me, that decision was predicated upon what seemed most likable (“should I teach, do professional ministry, work as a missionary?”) or what seemed most economically sound (“computer programming...what is computer programming?!”). The sudden choice of declaring your future-and-forever career is a challenging one for most college students. A study by the U.S. Department of Education found that 1 in 3 college students change their major by their third year of college. 1 in 10 college students make the change two or more times.
Beyond the burden of choosing a major, there is a dilemma as college graduates enter the workplace. Almost half of college graduates report that their first career choice was in a field unrelated to their degree, while nearly one-third report that they never work in a field related to their college major (1). Worse still is recent data showing that when graduates do enter a field they have a degree in, employers find them unprepared for their jobs, lacking both the hard and soft skills necessary for the careers their degrees represent training in (2).
Acknowledging the difficulty a young person has knowing what “they want to do,” yet striving to avoid the problem of graduates being unprepared for the workplace, the Academy for G.O.D. created the Directed Studies course for high school students. Directed Studies is a program that gives students the opportunity to experience a career field that interests them hands-on. The course emphasizes discovery, exposure, practice, and evaluation - all of which are necessary for students to leave high school prepared to pursue an occupation that they can claim, with confidence, they are suited for.
Genesis Garner, 15, shadows Jaimeé Arroyo, Family Nurse Practitioner, BC. "Being able to shadow at HFC gave me an incredible hands-on, real life opportunity to use my compassion for the sick" Genesis says.
Directed Studies adds a dose of reality to student interest, supplementing enjoyment with research and practice. This experience is not just theoretical, as students gain practical experience shadowing professionals in their fields of interest. For an entire school day, students observed their mentors in a professional setting: a student that wants a future in medicine shadowed a nurse practitioner. Another, interested in electrical engineering, worked on the job-site with a professional installing and programming ‘smart homes.’ A girl that wants to run her own bakery observes a small business owner, learning what it takes to start and manage your own company.
All together, the high school class shadowed professional counselors and psychiatrists, veterinarians, mechanics, electricians, business owners, journalists, photographers, elementary teachers, non-profit youth workers, and nurse practitioners. The lessons were tangible: “I learned the importance of knowing how and when to say ‘No’ to the customer.” “I experienced what journalism was like in terms of due dates, scheduling, policies, privacy, and time management.” “Working with a photographer allowed me to use what I was learning about a camera instead of keeping my knowledge idle.” “I saw the value in employees working together to solve problems on site.” “My mentor encouraged me to ‘follow my dreams’, but to do so understanding it would be five times harder than I expect now.”
The passions and interests of young people need to be encouraged, nurtured, and honed. Paul claims that, “We are [God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (Eph. 2:10). Who we are, then, is the result of God’s involvement, and, like any project, must be developed until we are capable of doing the “good works” Paul speaks of. The Directed Studies course is another step in the development of young people, giving them the opportunity to know a little better who they are and what they can do. For each student it is a gift to know better what they like and do not like, what they can and cannot do, and how to best direct their energy into pursuing an occupation that synthesizes what they enjoy with the reality of work, all in the context of participating in those “good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life” (Eph. 2:10).
1. Leu, Katherine, RTI International (author), presented by National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). "Beginning College Students Who Change their Majors within 3 Years of Enrollment," Data Point, US Department of Education, December 2017.
2. O'Shaughnessy, Lynn. "New Study Shows Careers and College Majors Often Don't Match." CBS News. November 15, 2013. Accessed April 05, 2018. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/new-study-shows-careers-and-college-majors-often-dont-match/.
3. 60% of employers surveyed found that college graduates lack the critical thinking skills necessary for their job. 44% found shortcomings in writing ability, and 39% in public speaking. "Which Job Skills Make the Most Money? Infographics | PayScale." Cardiovascular Technologist Salary. Accessed April 05, 2018. https://www.payscale.com/data-packages/job-skills.