School leaders at Brooklyn Scholars Charter School (BSCS) recently tackled the challenge of transitioning their usual Career Day to a virtual event. Traditionally, the event featured students physically gathering, eager to learn about potential career choices. This year, it functioned differently as the school moved the event to an online space by organizing the school’s first Virtual Career Day through Google Meets.
“Our first-ever Virtual Career Day was a huge success!” said Roxanne Thomas, principal at Brooklyn Scholars. “I really wanted to give students the opportunity to hear from professional individuals with careers that piqued their interest as well as careers that they may not know a lot about.”
Prior to the school closure, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the school was slated to host its annual career day at the end of May. In an effort to provide the same opportunity for students under these unusual circumstances, Thomas challenged her staff to still make it happen.
Adwoa Awuku, guidance counselor at BSCS, spearheaded the event in collaboration with Anthony Thompson, academic and behavioral specialist at BSCS, and Charlotte Borner, social worker at BSCS.
“Since school closed, our staff have been working diligently to keep students and families engaged,” said Thomas. “Fortunately, I work with a team of like-minded people who took the vision for a Virtual Career Day and began planning. It was ‘all hands on deck’ to make this event a successful one. Students asked presenters great questions and presenters kept students motivated and engaged.”
Presenters included a mix of friends and relatives of school staff members, parents from within the school community, and local community members. The event featured an offering of 15 speakers that rotated between each grade-level. Teachers created Google Meets that were shared with students and presenters, all based on a pre-determined schedule.
“We wanted to feature a range of careers since our scholars have so many different interests and skills,” Borner. “The students loved hearing from the presenters. They were engaged and asked really insightful questions.”’
The career day featured a variety of professions, including attorneys, cosmetologists, firefighters, police officers, mental health professionals, nutritionists, entrepreneurs, consultants, pharmacy technicians, and fitness instructors, to name a few.
“Remote learning has been such a difficult and unpredictable time, and while we try to keep as much consistency as possible, we've had to cancel so many of the fun activities we had planned for our scholars,” said Borner. “We thought that career day, a day that our school looks forward to every year, would be a great way to keep up some of the fun traditions, and do-able virtually.”
Highlights from the virtual gathering included students asking insightful questions to the presenters, including:
- “What is the most rewarding part about being a firefighter?"
- "What is the difference between being vegan and vegetarian?"
- "What are good foods to eat for a Type 1 diabetic?"
- "How has being a pharmacy tech changed since the beginning of the pandemic?"
- "How did you turn your love of sports into a profession?"
One goal of the event was to focus on ensuring it offered real-life value to students. “We always try and make sure our academic lessons are applicable and intertwined with our students' life experiences,” said Borner. “Career day is a great way to tie in the outside world and our school community.”