The joy of sharing our knowledge and experience with high school seniors moving on to college, careers, and beyond
Through a series of interesting connections, Lisa Edelson, the Education To Careers coordinator for Niles Township High School District 219, discovered our ISBA Committee on Law Related Education for the Public. She then reached out to our chair, Nancy Easum, to request volunteers from committee members to speak at the District’s Niles North facility the evening of October 16, 2018. The focus of the event was the launching of its ‘Kickstart to Career Pathways,’ a newly minted program for high school seniors, based upon a project recently initiated by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) in collaboration with other government agencies.
Titled ‘WORK LEARN GROW: Pathways to the Jobs of Illinois’ Future,’ the project also aims to help young people become college and career ready. A wealth of information to acquaint students with myriad industries, professions and vocations that offer apprenticeships and other courses of study, is available on the ISBE website at https://www.isbe.net where you will find, among other resources, a link to ‘College and Career Readiness’. The website is user-friendly, making it easy to identify the type/level of achievement and academic training required for particular careers.
The group of ‘industries’ featured on the website includes the hospitality industry, law enforcement, journalism, accounting, business management and administration, computer science/tech, the performing arts, agricultural science, and, of course, LAW. Most of those career choices and others were represented at the KICKSTART event by people working in those industries—with Karen Dimond from the Cook County Public Defender’s Office and yours truly, Sharon Eiseman, representing practitioners in the field of LAW. The representatives from each industry or profession were assigned a separate room in which to meet, consecutively, with two groups of seniors and their parents or other family members who chose to learn about that career—and also to learn from the presenters how they arrived at that particular choice—not always in a straight line but often after trying several other careers until ‘getting it right’.
The purpose of KICKSTART and similar events being held for seniors across Illinois is to expose them, at a critical turning point in their lives and educational histories, to the many options available, and give them a chance to explore and inquire about the different vocations or ‘industries’ as possible life careers. In such an environment, students are enabled to identify choices that are perhaps consistent with the interests and intellectual abilities they have developed in high school. Being so informed then serves as a means for them to decide which institution of higher learning, apprenticeship or other path to pursue or consider pursuing, and what to study in college, vocational school or elsewhere in order to get there.
Accordingly, Karen and I met with two different groups of students and their families to offer insights into what ‘practicing’ law is like—both in a government office and in a law firm. We also shared with them our sometimes crooked paths to our goals—meant to reassure them that one doesn’t always know what path to take, and that exploration is OK and can even lead to growth and better choices. One of the writings we shared with them is the following version of a delightful lecture given to entering freshmen at BGSU by Prof. Emeritus Thomas Klein.