Friday, April 22, 2011

Career Week 2011

Looking at babies

Looking at pastries

Looking at video games

Each year during Chicago Public Schools' Spring Break, Cabrini Connections organizes "Career Week" - a week full of trips to visit mentors in their workplaces. This year Jerman Beathea, Marcus Burks, Justin Fields, Dionte Herron, and Ana Tate visited a hospital, a grocery store, a scientific and educational association, and a university.

Our first stop was Evanston Hospital where Wednesday night mentor Gabrielle Cummings is Vice President. She is in charge of all of the day-to-day operations of the hospital including hiring and firing, how it looks and feels, and new construction projects with budgets of up to $100 million. For this visit, she recruited two of her colleagues - Pediatrician Kenneth L. Fox, M.D. and Registered Nurse Rhonda Scott - to present about their careers as well.

Dr. Fox grew up in Chicago and went to medical school at the University of Chicago. He did his residency in Boston, Massachusetts, and has traveled all over the world helping people. He even went to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake to offer his services. Dr. Fox knew he wanted to be a pediatrician from the age of 4 and spoke greatly about motivation and focus.

Ms. Scott grew up in Evanston and went to Evanston Township High School. As a student in high school, she even visited Evanston hospital, the place she works now. At the time of graduation, she was still uncertain about what she wanted to do, but several people encouraged her to pursue nursing. It is a great way to help people and it pays well, too, she said. Ms. Scott spoke greatly about finding your passion and then sacrificing to pursue it.

Our next stop was Evanston South Whole Foods Market where Thursday night Volunteer Coordinator Melissa Iwaimi (right) is the Customer Service Coordinator. She is in charge of all of the cashiers, the customer service desk, and counting the money at the end of the night. She introduced us to Marketing and Community Relations Specialist Bridget Isaia who was our main tour guide for the rest of the afternoon.

We started in the Produce section with a talk about organic versus all-natural and how foods are purchased, prepared, and displayed at Whole Foods. Next we went to the Meat & Poultry department to learn about the humane treatment of animals and the ranking system for meats. After perusing the store a little more, we came upon the Bakery. We learned about what it takes to become a baker and what differentiates Whole Foods' cakes from the cakes you see in a regular supermarket. All in all it was a great visit with exposure to many careers you can find behind-the-scenes in your local grocery store.

On Wednesday, we visited two more locations. We began at the American College of Surgeons with Wednesday night mentor Brian Kamajian (left). Brian is the Manager of Software Development at ACS. He put together a fantastic lineup of speakers including employees from the departments of Information Technology, Conventions & Meetings, Graphics, and Accounting. Each speaker spent 15 minutes explaining what they do and how they reached this point in their careers. (Special thanks to Brian for taking us out to lunch at Sayat Nova Armenian Restaurant.)

Again, it was fantastic insight into the vast career opportunities that are out there for our students to pursue. Someone has to design the graphics for the NBA. Someone has to organize the events that are NBA games. Someone has to keep track of the money from ticket sales. Being a player isn't the only option!

Our last Career Week trip for 2011 was to DePaul University where Brea Adams (right) works in the Office for Teaching, Learning and Assessment (TLA). She is also a graduate student in School and Community Counseling. This is the third consecutive year that Brea has hosted a group for Career Week!

She started us off with a tour of her office and the people she works with. TLA supports teaching and learning at DePaul by providing services, resources and events focused on best practices in teaching. One of the main things they do is offer supplemental instruction in historically difficult courses. Brea talked about this process and why it is particularly important to ask for help when you're in college. Don't be afraid!

Brea also talked about her personal studies. She led a great exercise in which she asked our students to write down what they thought caused people (in general) to act the ways that they do. We came up with friends, family, personal experiences, motivation like money or prestige, and more. She then made the point that each individual person is the summation of many communities and personal experiences and thoughts. Therefore, we should not judge a person by their actions alone. We should understand and care for each other more deeply. That is why Brea wants to be a school counselor!

The last thing Brea did was take us to DePaul's College of Computing and Digital Media. One of the many media-related degrees you can get there is Computer Game Development. Our students were very excited to see these students (picture at the top) hard at work in the "Console Gaming Lab."

Thank you to all of our volunteer and student participants and everyone else in and outside of the program who contributed to Career Week 2011. I look forward to one day having these students host us as visitors in their workplaces! See you next year!

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