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At ten years old, a youngster likely does not have the faintest idea about what he or she wants to be when grown up. Of course, it is not expected that a fifth grader has insight into his or her future profession, with a career track all mapped out. While attending elementary school, it may seem to some children that their jobs are, and always will be, a student. Since they have only existed in the world for a decade, how can they be expected to envision their future lives further down the road than their own life span? The work of a child is to enjoy life, to be grateful, to study, or to play.
When the teachers introduce the concepts related to Young AmeriTowne, more often than not, it is the first time the thought crosses the mind of what career they want to pursue in adult years. Questions like, “What are your strengths?”, “What makes you unique?”, or “What interests you?” are pondered. A seed is planted in the mind or heart of the student that if nothing more, gets the wheels of curiosity turning about the professional world.
A real-life example
Not too long ago, I met a friend of a friend at a bowling alley. The usual small talk was exchanged, including the nicety, “Where do you work?” When he heard that I worked for Young Americans Center, he lit up. He explained, “Young AmeriTowne was the very reason I decided to become a graphic artist.” This grown man, thirty years old, was a true testament to our program’s success and its purpose. He told me it was his experience working in the Sign & Print Shop during his elementary school trip to Young Americans that made him curious about the profession. Before that field trip, he did not know what a graphic artist was or did. The purpose of the one-day simulation in Towne serves to teach students about the basics of finance and business, but sometimes a more specific interest or career path can also be sparked along the way.
From time to time, I think of his story. When I look in the eyes of the students each day in Towne, I try to remember that if these kids have a great time in the role they have been placed, and really love their jobs, that seed might just continue to grow… and grow… and grow.