“Mom, do you know where I can find an internship?” (“Mom, do you know where I can find an internship?”), I asked.
“I don’t know… Ask the school counselor or your teacher. They will be able to help you more because they have more information.” (“I don’t know…ask your school counselor or teacher. They will be able to help you more because they have more information”), she replied.
My mother did not go to high school or college, so she has limited knowledge about college and career readiness. Most parents in my community, Salinas, California, are in the same situation.
At school, students struggle to find college and career resources. It is common to hear students complain about the slow response from the counseling office. As a high school freshman, my lack of access to high-quality college and career information was particularly stressful. Although I research my options, I’m afraid they are not enough.
In my community, many students aspire to careers in nursing, agriculture, and education. The reason is clear: Agriculture provides 24.1 percent of all domestic jobs, while education, social assistance and health care provide 18.2 percent. Students are the most exposed to these jobs.
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Although these are perfectly fine careers, they are a narrow range of career opportunities, and many students are not aware of other options. Recently, one of my professors showed us a video about a day in the life of a software engineer. In our discussion, most students said that they did not consider such a career a possibility.
A study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development found that many students in the twenty-first century have aspirations for jobs created in the nineteenth or twentieth century. This means that many students have little knowledge of new professions and the skills to pursue them. Students who aim for these new careers tend to be wealthier.
Many students have minimal knowledge of new professions and the skills to pursue them.
In Salinas, where many of the students will be first-generation college students, a better awareness of these jobs is needed. Google is a huge help for those of us who are looking for potential jobs, but having the chance to see jobs in practice and get support navigating our job search journeys would be an even bigger help.
Schools and community organizations in Salinas should invest more in developing university and career readiness. This can be done through job fairs and school-wide college visits.
For example, in the Natchez-Adams School District in Mississippi, students have the opportunity to obtain training in various career paths at Fallin Career & Technology Center. Students can take courses there in digital media technology, health sciences, and health education, among others.
High school students at Natchez-Adams also have a program in which they can gain a head start in higher education. They can enroll in their local community college and take classes for associate degrees. This path is highly encouraged, and 75 percent of students in the 2021 graduating class at Natchez Early College earned associate’s degrees in this way.
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I think high schools in Salinas and elsewhere should implement similar programs to help students feel more prepared as they enter college and the workforce. This will be the first step, but the promotion of the programs will be the second. Students will be grateful for that.
I encourage Salinas Union High School District and other districts to consider creating more programs that will help students not only obtain high-quality information about college and career but also high-quality assistance for their future endeavours.
Caroline Durantes is a student at Rancho San Juan High School. She writes for the Monterey Bay Voices and Student Audio Journalism Fellowship.
This story about college and career advice was produced by Hechinger . Report, an independent, nonprofit news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. sign for Hechinger . newsletter.