How internships, advisors guide District 214 students on their career paths
Before she begins college and a career in marketing, Jessy Syed already knows the kinds of skills she'll need to thrive in the field.
As part of Northwest Suburban High School District 214's Career Pathways program, the Buffalo Grove High School senior has participated in marketing internships, including one last summer at the Rolling Meadows Chamber of Commerce.
The experiences, she said, have helped her develop an array of soft skills that marketing professionals use every day.
"When you're in an office environment, you're actually seeing how people with years of experience under their belt are interacting with clients, and when they are smiling and have eye contact and positive body language," said Syed, who will study marketing and behavioral economics at the University of Pennsylvania.
"You're learning a lot about what it takes to be a people person in those situations."
The Career Pathways program offers all District 214 students the opportunity to participate in internships and other workplace learning experiences that match their career interests.
Nearly 3,000 students annually take advantage of work-based learning experiences that are coordinated by District 214's Center for Career Discovery. The center works with more than 950 local businesses and industry partners to make these opportunities possible.
The center's goals are multifaceted: It helps District 214 students discover what they want -- or, more importantly, what they don't want -- to pursue beyond high school. It also helps them understand what skills are needed in the workplace.
In addition to workplace learning experiences, the Center for Career Discovery holds annual Career Nights, provides students with resume and interviewing support, and brings industry guest speakers to classes.
The center also offers career advisors, job placement specialists and job coaches to help students further explore their interests and discover careers.
Funded primarily by federal, state and private grants, District 214's Center for Career Discovery program has been recognized at the state and national levels for its unique and innovative career exploration model, including at the White House's 2015 Summit on Next-Generation High Schools.
"The (District 214) community really is a trailblazer," said Jason Quiara, a senior program officer with The Joyce Foundation, which provided funding to expand District 214's Career Pathways program.
"I think (the community) got to the point faster than a lot of other communities in that there needs to be an economic engine to public education."
Helping students gain skills in the workplace benefits employers as well. Keats Manufacturing in Wheeling has worked with student interns from District 214 for at least six years. The partnership has helped Keats introduce young people to careers in manufacturing and within the company, said Matt Eggemeyer of Keats Manufacturing.
"It's an amazing opportunity to pitch your business [and] your industry. Especially in manufacturing … for all of us, it's our duty to expose careers in manufacturing," Eggemeyer said of partnering with District 214. "This is one small piece that we can do to help the manufacturing community."
Elk Grove High School student Radek Lucarz said his engineering internship last summer with Pepper Construction cemented engineering as his future career. It also taught him how to interact with supervisors and what is expected on work sites.
Now, Lucarz, a junior, is deciding between the aerospace and electrical engineering fields.
"(The internship) gave me knowledge that other students can't get from class or just talking to someone," he said. "It's such an interesting job, and this internship is going to be an advantage."
About this series, and how you can helpThis story is part of a 16-week series looking at Northwest Suburban High School District 214's Career Pathways program.
To join District 214's Career Pathways effort as an internship host, career mentor or classroom speaker, contact Barb Kain in the Teaching and Learning Department, firstname.lastname@example.org. To support the program financially through a sponsorship, early career credentials or college credits for students, naming or other contribution, contact Erin Brooks with the District 214 Education Foundation, email@example.com.