By Emma Austin
As an incoming freshman during fall 2016, I had the opportunity to attend a DiscoverU worksite tour. While I had no idea what it would entail, I was very excited to visit a company and gain some knowledge while having catered food! This might have been any other student’s same thought process, but the experience itself meant more than any food or just a simple distraction from school. We had the chance to visit a company and, unlike any other event or lecture, we got to do hands-on activities and learn a lot more about careers. The worksite tours definitely helped me understand the careers that are available to me more than visiting the company’s website or talking to one of their employees about it.
After the worksite experience, I was left wondering if I would ever get the chance to learn about career paths and college in the same fashion. It led me to research a ton more about internships and opportunities in my school’s career center. This then led me to the world of events that I knew nothing about. Somewhere in the mix, I ended up finding out about a “DiscoverU Student Design Team,” happening during the summer. It pushed me to fill out a packet (more like one page) of questions while trying my hardest to sound as interesting as possible… only to find out that I was the only person at my school who had grabbed the sheet. That’s when I realized a lot of other freshmen were missing out on opportunities because most of them just didn’t know it was even happening or they were too unsure about going to the career center to ask questions. This had me wondering about how well information told by teachers or through daily announcements was getting across to students.
But let me just tell you: being on the student design team was AWESOME! We had the chance to tour five different workspaces, including Renton Technical College, Galvanize, Facebook, Boston Consulting Group, and Madrona. It was fantastic to be able to hear the actual employees’ sides of the story, and learn what it’s really like to wake up every day to that job/profession. A lot of the places we visited also informed us about careers that wouldn’t necessarily need a traditional four-year degree, which is what we mostly hear about in school.
Not only did this experience lead me to certain opportunities, but it helped me to see the bigger picture. I saw how important it really is to understand how many options there are when you graduate high school or even for current high school students like me. Because unlike any other time in our lives, we have the chance right now to test the waters, find the things we’re passionate about, and run with it. We don’t have to worry about being stuck in a profession because in our day and age, lifestyles and careers are always changing. This experience also gave me the awesome opportunity to write this post, which has been a dream come true!
Lastly, I want to give a huge thank you to our Student Design Team “chaperones.” Julie, for giving me the chance to write this and believing in me enough to do it! Alejandra, for bringing us all together for this one-of-a-kind experience! And to Jama for being our really cool videographer, who hopefully got all our best angles in the worksite tour videos!
Emma is a sophomore at Renton High School. She is one of the seven youth leaders that make up the DiscoverU Student Design Team. She is passionate about writing and is an aspiring journalist. Not only does she want to try and change lives by bringing important topics to the light, but she wants to “give a voice to the voiceless,” because as an ethical journalist, she believes it’s a duty. She hopes she can one day tell her friends and family that she published a novel, and that her dreams as a young literature enthusiast came true!