Considering your future career can be daunting for anyone. For a teen, thinking about what you want to be when you grow up can be that much harder. Many of us don’t have the opportunity to learn about a profession before we start studying it after high school. Students wind up changing their majors, possibly spending money on classes they didn’t really need. With that uncertainty in mind, Pikes Peak Library District teen services staff wanted to give young adults a glimpse into potential job fields through their Career Conversations program.
Career Conversations is a monthly program hosted during the school year, with each session focusing on a different field. Some of the job types that were covered during the 2015–16 school year included medicine, STEM, trades/skilled labor, law, business, military and public service, and creative arts. Each session features a panel of field professionals available to answer questions. Some of these questions were given to the speakers before and asked by staff; others were taken from the audience.
Amberlyn Russell, teen services specialist, took the program over from a former colleague. To acquire speakers, she emails coworkers asking for contacts who might be willing to speak with a group on each particular field. Using these connections, the organizers are able to find a wide variety of speakers from all these different careers.
When she was querying the panelists, Russell found one of the questions particularly interesting: “What is the most useful secret skill you need for your job?” No matter what the field, the most common response was communication and people skills. Russell said it was also fascinating to see the huge variety of careers within the different fields. For instance, the legal and criminal justice panel had a district attorney for El Paso County, an investigator for the Colorado Springs Public Defender’s Office, a lieutenant with the Colorado Springs Police Department Violent Crimes Section, a self-represented litigant coordinator, and a member of Pikes Peak Library District security.
When asked what she attributed to the success of the program, Russell said the advertising that was sent out to the schools and across the library district helped to get the word out, and library staff constantly talked up the program to teens. She also cited the great volunteer panelists who came in, willing to share information with attendees and keep them engaged and curious.
If you’re interested in offering this kind of program at your library, Russell has a few words of advice. First, partner with the local schools so the program can be advertised more widely. To find panelists, reach out to the community to find as diverse a panel of members as possible. Finally, fashion questions that highlight the different careers.
Eager for more job training opportunities to provide teens in your community? Check out some of our other career-oriented blog posts below!