“Time’s up!” rang out across the Botswana Baylor grounds, followed by the sound of chairs screeching backward, applause, cheers and many a thank you. 10 groups of adolescents and 10 adult volunteers stood, shook hands with their presenters, checked their map and moved to the next station. Delighted with the German sausages and mustard at the chef/caterer’s food truck, teens were hesitant to move on at the sound of the bell, but their interest was soon captured by the next station’s presenter: DJ Oneil from RB2, talking about his career in the world of music and public radio. From there, teens progressed down the hall to see the electrical engineer, who performed a magic trick that left everyone stumped! The next door over, other teens were hearing from one of Botswana Baylor’s own doctors about the education and life of a pediatrician; they left that station feeling encouraged to work hard… and then harder… in school. After the doctor’s room, groups learned about GIS (Geographic Information System) and mapping. Upstairs, another group of teens listened to an accountant, while still others next door were inspired by a Social Worker. In adjoining rooms, a pilot taught about planes and life in the air, and a photographer captured life (and our teens!) on film. Shrieks of delight came from the courtyard every time the chemist made his baking soda-vinegar volcano explode with red foam!
It is not so often that adolescents have the opportunity to get a taste of different careers. School or family pushes in certain directions, and life can often feel pre-determined by these outside forces. The goal of our Teen Club Career Day was to give the teens a chance to experiment, ask questions, listen and learn for themselves what life is like as a pilot, an engineer, a doctor, a chef, and to understand what it takes to be a professional in each of those careers. We wanted them to leave inspired, to be motivated to reach for the stars (or at least the skies, in the case of the pilot), to study hard in school and work hard in life with the knowledge that all of these professions and many more are just at their fingertips.
Feedback on Teen Club Career Day was overwhelmingly positive. Walking between stations upstairs, one girl was overheard saying “how wonderful to be a Social Worker!” as another Teen Club participant down the hall remarked, “I always thought I wanted to be a pilot, and now I am sure!” One of the teens was particularly pleased with the photographer’s station; she was excited to show everyone that the artistic career she dreams of is as legitimate an endeavor as finance or marketing. Overall, the day went without a flaw. Everyone who attended left feeling inspired by each other: the teens and volunteers from the professionals, the professionals from the teens and volunteers. At the end of the day, we can only hope that everyone went home a little more determined to put in that extra effort at work or at school, and, perhaps, a little more excited about tomorrow.