A 12-year-old might dream of becoming an astronaut, the president, a firefighter, an athlete. But does she know what it takes to achieve that dream? Does she know what classes are important or what colleges she can go to? Does she know what other careers are out there that might also interest her?
Thanks to a group of volunteers from Bank of America, middle school students in the Citizen Schools program at Martin Luther King Middle School in Charlotte, North Carolina are discovering their own dreams, and learning how to achieve them. This career exposure and journey of self-discovery happens in an afternoon “apprenticeship” class as part of the Citizen Schools expanded learning day program.
Andrew Blaser, an AVP at Bank of America, was part of leading the Brand You apprenticeship class. Once a week, students learned how to apply the principles of branding to their own lives by discovering what makes them unique and exploring future careers that reflect their unique interests and personalities. Throughout the ten week course, the students worked on creating a personal brand message based on their interests, college and career goals, and then had the chance to present their personal goals to executives at Bank of America.
We asked Andrew to reflect on his experience in the classroom. Here’s what he had to say...
One of the greatest parts of the curriculum we chose to teach, Brand You, was that it allowed us to explore potential career paths with our students. This was an exciting opportunity because many of them had never considered the possibilities before this class. Once the class had discovered their unique characteristics, such as strengths, weaknesses, passions, etc., they were asked to put together a list of future careers they would love to have.
We generated a worksheet to help with this exercise, listing potential careers from auto mechanic to surgeon to teacher to financial planner, 42 options in all. The students loved this because it presented them with so many options that would never have occurred to them otherwise, and, of course, since this list was not exhaustive it helped spark some great creativity in the class to come up with even more great ideas. By the end of our time together, we had students who wanted to be veterinarians, soccer stars, programmers, law enforcement, and everything in between!
Many students were able to choose their possible future careers because we helped them connect the dots through the exercises in class. This is the greatest part as a Citizen Teacher because it shows that we made an impact and helped someone dream big. In particular, I can think of one student who really struggled with deciding on careers and we were able to help her find something she was extremely passionate about.
When asked to create a list of potential career paths, this student was stumped. We went back into her folder and pulled exercises we had completed in class. This included a personal SWOT analysis, brand descriptors, and other personal evaluation tools. Using these, we determined that she had a real passion for music and science. As a hobby, she loved listening to music. It was one of her favorite activities. After some discussion, we thought about how she could share that talent with the world as a DJ.
She loved the idea, but we pushed her a little further. Of course, it is possible to make a career being a DJ, but we wanted to go another step, so we urged her to think about how she could combine music with her love of science.
This opened up the world of being a researcher, where she could pursue an advanced degree in science relating to the study of music. Or she could be a physicist, thinking about how sound waves interact with the world. The list went on, but the takeaway was that by thinking about a career revolving around what she loved, and not as a just a job down the road, we created a list of exciting possibilities that will hopefully inspire her to continue her education and enter a rewarding field down the road.