TRUMBULL—Dr. William Fitzgerald, head of St. Joseph High School, tells the story about his daughter’s search to find the right career.
In the fifth grade, parents came to her class and talked about what they did for a living, so she decided to be a lawyer.
In high school, another dad asked her what kind of lawyer she wanted to be and he suggested patent lawyer, adding “but you need an engineering degree for that.” So she got an engineering degree with a minor in economics.
“And then like all the rest of her engineering class,” Fitzgerald recalled, “they all went into finance in New York City.
For some, finding a career is a process of discovery, for others it’s a bolt of inspiration out of the blue, and for the rest it can be a series of fits and starts.
For the almost 380 juniors and seniors who took part in the first Career Day at St. Joseph’s, it was a time for enlightenment as they listened to presentations by 35 professionals who held more than 100 sessions during which students asked them questions about their fields in order to learn—in the words of Fitzgerald—“what old people do with their day.”
He told students, “You ought to know what opportunities are out there and what you need to know to get there. The best way to do that is by talking to doers.”
The day began with a presentation by Dr. Donald Gibson, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs at Fairfield University and former Dean of the Dolan School of Business, who assured students there’s no magic formula to selecting a career and that it’s a discernment process with two fundamental considerations—“what am I good at and what do I like to do.”
Gibson, who also teaches courses in Leadership and Teams, Human Resources, and Management, said we live in a time when parents and students spend a lot of money for a college education and expect “value,” but cautioned that college should not only be a preoccupation with career preparation, but also a period of exploration in areas such as literature, art history and philosophy.
“Think about rounding yourself,” he said, “It’s not just about training.” It’s often a time to explore new possibilities, he said, with some 80 percent of U.S. college students changing their major at least once.
Sessions were held in such areas as arts, journalism, communications, business, finance, marketing, management, education, life sciences, health sciences, sports medicine, medicine, nursing, pharmacology, law, criminal justice, engineering and veterinary science.
Jettke Gray, class of 2019, who plays lacrosse at St. Joseph’s, said she is interested in pursuing a career in sports medicine and is looking at several schools, including Endicott College and High Point University, and after the sessions she also was intrigued by the possibilities of marketing and business.
Career Day is part of the FUTURES program, which was designed to encourage students to explore professional and career interests with people in different fields. A business etiquette class is also offered, which provides lessons in self-presentation, business attire, interviewing skills, the importance of a strong on-line presence, and networking. Students learn how to write a resume and use professional on-line tools to assist their outreach.
Kevin McSpirit, director of projects at Odin Marine, an international ship brokerage company and founder of Power Through Principles, a program in life skills and character development for urban youth, stressed the importance of hard work, courage and the need to work to their strengths. He told students about his personal career path and said, “Any accomplishments I have been able to achieve have only been through God’s grace.”
St Joseph High School (SJHS) strives to be the premier college preparatory school in Southern Connecticut. The school provides a learning environment that embraces the Gospel values of the Roman Catholic faith and promotes a commitment to family and community. SJHS prepares young women and men to realize their potential, helps them to excel in higher education, and provides a foundation to guide them throughout their lives because where you go to high school matters. St Joseph High School is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools. www.sjcadets.org