PA Personal Injury Lawyers Louisa Chen & Julia Lee Speak to Students at Wissahickon Middle School for Career Day
WMS STUDENTS EXPLORE POSSIBLE CAREERS
By: Thomas Celona; Staff Writer; April 7, 2011
Lawyer Louisa Chen speaks to students about her career and the daily routine of someone in her profession. Gazette staff photos THOMAS CELONA
From lawyers to scientists, musicians to police officers, business people to fitness instructors, people from seemingly every possible profession came to Wissahickon Middle School March 30 for the school's career day.
For the past decade, the middle school has organized a career day event each year, bringing in a variety of speakers to expose students to potential careers.
Originally designed for just eighth-graders, the school expanded the event to include all grades last year. "It was based off of feedback we got from students, as well as teachers and administration and parents; everyone thought it would be a good idea to try and get it schoolwide," said Gus Baldassano, a guidance counselor at the middle school and organizer of career day.
Beginning at 7:35 a.m., speakers and students filled 45 classrooms across the school, with approximately 49 people sharing what they do and how they got into their current profession, dispelling some myths about different jobs and answering plenty of questions from the students.
"Each student in sixth, seventh and eighth grade will see five different speakers," Baldassano said. "They'll see a presentation by each speaker for 30 minutes, and they rotate from one to the other."
Baldassano said he tries to make sure the speakers come from the entire spectrum of careers so students are exposed to several different career paths.
This year's speakers include artists; attorneys; educators; engineers; a manager of a Genuardi's; members of the media; officers from the Lower Gwynedd Police Department and the Montgomery County Correctional Facility; physicians; representatives from the School of Rock; and scientists from Dow Chemical, Merck and Johnson & Johnson, among others.
One of the most popular speakers was meteorologist Michelle Grossman from NBC 10. "We've been able to build a connection with NBC News as far as getting someone in here on a regular basis, which the kids love," Baldassano said, noting news anchor Aditi Roy attended last year.
Grossman spoke to students about how she pursued internships, how she broke into her field and how she transitioned from a behind-the-scenes job to being in front of the camera. She also talked to students about her experience on "The Today Show," along with meeting several celebrities and members of both the Flyers and the Phillies.
"(NBC 10) sent someone to talk about a day in the life," Grossman said. "I'm so happy to be here. It's a great event. The kids are really interested."
Grossman said she hoped the students took away several important pieces of advice from the event, no matter what career path they eventually chose: "that it's never too early to start; that an internship is really important, whether it's in high school and they're really close to that; get a mentor...and just look around you, absorb everything that's around you."
Meanwhile, Sgt. Mike Gargan of the Lower Gwynedd Police Department spoke about the daily routine of a police officer. He also discussed the importance of education in law enforcement, showing - to the surprise of many students - how a good knowledge of grammar, math, physics, psychology and other subjects are all essential to his job.
After the first couple sessions, Gargan said he was impressed with the questions the students has been asking. "These kids are really, really sharp, so they've kept me on my toes so far,", he said.
Baldassano said while the students may not yet know what career path they want to follow, hearing from people in different professions now gets them thinking about the future and the various possibilities.
"The biggest thing is, I think, to learn the myths and the realities of a profession," he said. "I want to make them see the realities of all the different professions."