Sunday, March 6, 2011

Career Day 2011

Every year around the end of February, Lake Land College in Mattoon, Illinois, holds the Eighth Grade Career Conference. Eighth graders from area schools take a half day to explore various careers to jump-start their thinking on the eternal question, "What do I want to do when I grow up?"

This year the Illinois Court Reporters Association was represented by Sarah Wilhoit on Thursday and Georgia Rollins and I on Friday. We set up at a table on the perimeter of the Field House gym, as were the other professions, and the sessions began with the students seated in the middle and watching the motivational speaker, "Chalk Guy" Ben Glenn, create a gorgeous landscape with chalk.

An aside: Volunteer for this just to watch his chalk painting. I've seen it six times now, and every single time I get teary-eyed from the beauty. Check him out online if you're intrigued.

After the presentation, the students must visit at least three booths and ask certain questions. For example, "What do you like most about your job?" "What classes should I take in high school to prepare for this career?"

Our booth was set up next to the bomb squad, and their rep brought grenades and pipe bombs. You can see his paraphernalia on the table behind Georgia. (Needless to say, the TSA were NOT represented at this conference.) For the first half of the day, Georgia and I sat and watched the bomb squad's line of interested students grow to stretch halfway across the gym. On the bright side, our lack of customers gave us time to set up the projection screen so everyone could see our realtime.

Georgia did most of the talking while I wrote her and the students, who, like, totally, like, freaked out because, like, what they were, like, saying was, like, appearing in big yellow letters for, like, the whole world to, like, see. (I write "like" with commas around it as LAO*EUK.) And Georgia did a wonderful job! She was dynamic and engaging, and the kids walked away from our booth understanding that court reporting and captioning is an amazing and valuable profession that just may be for them.

After the students left, we had a lunch break, after which we reset for a brand new bunch of eighth graders. This time I was able to CART the full session: the welcome, announcements, and Ben Glenn -- and if you ever caption him, heads up. He likes to say "Sasquatch."

This is my serious face.

Georgia and I could see several students' heads turn towards our screen, and that definitely brought in some interested kids! A gaggle of four or five young men were tickled when I told them that if I want the phrase "to a reasonable degree" to come up, I write TURD. They liked the idea of getting paid to caption sports games, whether on TV or in the stadium.

Afterwards, a mother and daughter expressed their appreciation to me because they recently came to the States, were learning English, and better understood today's happenings because they could see my realtime. Thank ME? I thank THEM for the appreciation! That made this day extra special.

Don't hoard your skill, everyone. Share it.