On April 15, sophomores and juniors attended the PHS Career Fair to observe presentations of numerous careers and local internship opportunities. Specialists in various fields organized interest tables in the New Gym, and featured topics ranged from journalism to cosmetology to pharmaceuticals. As an incentive for sophomores, all of those who attended the fair received one hour of community service.
Created last year, the Career Fair was designed to help sophomores and juniors expand their knowledge of occupation options for the future and gain a head start in choosing a career. “The PHS Career Day is targeted at tenth and 11th grade students with hopes of increasing their knowledge of careers and to learn about the path they can take to achieve their goals,” wrote Guidance Counselor Paulo Velasco in an email. “Our goal is to support the [sophomore and junior classes] by exposing them to various career options and essentially to enhance their transition from high school and beyond.”
The first PHS Career Fair, which took place in 2014, had fewer presenters and was only open to tenth graders. “Last year we kept it pretty small; we only opened it to the sophomore class because it was our first year,” said Guidance Counselor Kristina Donovan. “This year we [had] almost double the amount of careers being represented, and we opened it to the junior class as well.”
This year, the organizers prided themselves on the variety of occupations represented. “We’re really trying to make it very diverse. I think we have an artist this year, a writer, so we really want a variety of careers,” Donovan said. “As part of our expansion, every year we’re going to try and get more and more [presenters] so that really, students can get a great understanding and feel for those careers.”
To teach students about their options, many specialists presented at the fair to offer advice on what career path to take. “It’s important to do a little research to find out what [a] career really entails,” said Kara Bickham, a clinical director at a pharmaceutical company, Merck & Co. “You don’t know what’s going to become interesting to you as you get older … you just want to keep your options open.”
During or soon after high school, students must choose a path to pursue, whether it be to college or straight into the workplace. When deciding, the choice is not always easy, as some students may experience pressures from different aspects of their lives.
Often, students feel pushed to choose a certain field by their parents or peers. “[My parents are] Chinese, [and they pressure me] to choose a career that makes a lot of money that you can use to support your family,” said Caren Ju ’18. “There’s a lot of pressure from my parents to not do what I want, but to do something that makes a lot of money.”
This concern regarding income is also echoed in the household of Ashley Muflam ’18. She said, “My parents pressure me to choose something that they think I’d be able to have a stable income from so that I can live comfortably.”
Career paths that are seen as roads to success often are demanding and require a lot of work and effort. Brendan DeMilt ’17 discussed the difficulties within certain careers, explaining the pressures in the engineering field. “You have to know a lot and you need to get it right every time in order for things to work,” he said. “It’s always worrying that you’ve got to stick out among everybody else and really do well.”
Yet despite these fears, DeMilt has a definitive goal and is interested in pursuing engineering. “I’ve always wanted to make things [and] contribute to something people use every day that helps them out,” DeMilt said. “I’ve never felt obligated by anyone to do this; it’s something I’ve built an interest on growing up, and it’s something that I’d be happy to pursue.”
Sam Wolsk ’15 has found a way to combine, at least for college, two of his main interests. After playing in the Studio Band for four years and taking several STEM classes, Wolsk decided to pursue a dual degree in jazz studies and engineering. He said, “I haven’t decided on which kind of engineering, but my career path is definitely going to include some combination of those two.”
By attending the Career Fair, some students sought to be able to pinpoint a closer range of possibilities for their future. “I’d like to know about what career opportunities exist and how exactly they come about,” said Dylan Lim ’17. “[I’m interested in] something in the science field like engineering and/or mathematics.”
Some, like Muflam, have a career goal in mind, but hoped to get further information out of the Career Fair. “[I’m interested in] Oncology [the study of tumors] … I want to help as many people as possible, and make the right decisions when it comes to what courses I should take when treating someone,” she said.
Lisa Knigge ’17 used the Career Fair as an opportunity to learn more about topics that intrigued her and to gain practical information. “I was really interested with an environmental scientist [Dr. Shanley] … I thought her work was really interesting, and it’s something I can see myself doing,” she said. “I received good advice on … how to approach college and how to make a good decision about a career.”
Others who attended the Career Fair appreciated the options it provided. “It gave me a sense of the real world … It took me out from school stress and exam stress,” said Siyang Liu ’17. “I’ll actually have a chance to do something I enjoy that won’t be stressful in the same way as school.”