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Draper Journal

Draper Park eighth-graders explore colleges, careers

May 07, 2018 03:31PM ● By Julie Slama

At FM100.3 radio station, Draper Park Middle School students got a “shout out.” (Photo courtesy of Jody Jensen)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

About 500 Draper Park Middle School eighth-graders bordered school buses heading to about 25 different colleges and businesses to explore options for their future.

“We learned if we go to the college sites, it improves their vision of the future,” said school counselor Kathy Bitner. “We paired up career opportunities with colleges so they could see what the world of work would be like.”

Students had the opportunity on the day-long field trip to attend a college and a place of business. Often, the places students visited complemented one another, such as touring Neumont College of Computer Science to learn about software development and careers in technology before learning about putting it to use at the Vivint Area, or learning about the University of Utah’s art and engineering program before going to Spy Hop.

Draper Park Middle School students not only visited Vivint Smart Home Arena, but also were able to shoot hoops on the basketball floor. (Photo courtesy of Jen Watson)

Other colleges and businesses allowed students to explore a variety of options such as learning about Salt Lake Community College’s culinary arts program before checking out careers at the airport or touring Utah Valley University’s auto mechanics program before learning about IM Flash.

“Some students may have an idea what they want to go into while others have no idea, and that’s OK. That is what this day is all about. Our goal is to motivate them to be better students in high school and get them excited about going to college,” Bitner said. “We’re just so appreciative how generous the businesses are with their top people giving up so much time and colleges answering questions of our students. It says a lot about people in our community.” 

Bitner said that students also get to start making connections with employers and learn there are more opportunities than they may realize.

“Some students learned by touring veterinarian clinics and preschools that knowing Spanish helps with their careers. Others learned how English could help with social media. Some students learned about how to start their own business and toured Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute at the U. It really opened up their eyes to talk to people and learn about careers and college paths to get there,” she said.

They also learned that some businesses will pay for degrees or training while employed instead of the traditional way of attending college to earn a degree before starting a career, Bitner said.

She said that students who visited Adobe, for example, learned how many different careers options there are, from human resources to software, and what kinds of degrees would be needed for those professions.

“The places really helped them understand what all was available in terms of careers and encouraged them to experience different things now so they could be thinking of their future. The world is theirs; they just need to go after it,” Bitner said.

Beforehand, students learned employment skills such as how to fill out an application, and afterward, how to write thank-you notes, she said.

They also were encouraged to make videos of their experiences, which are planned to be shown during the end-of-the-year eighth-grade assembly, for the school community council and before students go to the fourth annual college and career day field trip next year.