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The best way to engage with the next generation? Visit a high school!

  • 1.  The best way to engage with the next generation? Visit a high school!

    Posted 05-24-2019 10:18

    My name is Caroline French, I am 18 years old and live in McLean, VA. In two short weeks, I will be graduating from McLean High School. Next year I will be attending Elon University and entering undecided, but I am interested in studying abroad with a focus on China/Chinese. In high school, I was a Co-President in Girls' Leadership where I help to expand and grow our club to get more women at our school interested in the events we were putting on. This past March we put on an event that we named 'Ladies, Lunch & Learn' where we invited powerful, professional women in our community to come and speak on a panel about their jobs, education, and how their personal lives fit with their jobs. Though it was a successful event, we wished more girls at our school took advantage of this networking event.


    As I learned more about the Manufacturing Institute's STEP Program, I became interested in how similar that event is to the one I helped put on. Even though I know I will be attending college next year, college is not for everyone and young students should learn what a manufacturing job is in 2019. As a high school student, I have firsthand experience on the best ways to engage and connect with high school girls.


    Based on my involvement with Girls' Leadership, I can outline some actions you can take to engage with your local high schools, or if you're in the area of McLean High School specifically.


    1. Research whether your local high schools have a designated staff member responsible for organizing career fairs, such as a career counselor
      1. For McLean HS, linked below is our Career Specialist at MHS responsible of creating career fairs.


    1. Ask them how you can become involved:
      1. Is there a Career Fair coming up that I can be a part of?
      2. Is there a shadow/internship program that I can take students on manufacturing tours?
      3. How can I help to support your school starting one?
      4. Can I be placed on your internship/career contact list?
      5. How can I become a mentor?
      6. Is there a class that lines up with manufacturing that I can take a group of students on tour to teach them what manufacturing really looks like?


    1. Does your local high school offer any advanced technical and specialized courses related to your expertise? In Fairfax County specifically, we have Academy Programs at several of our high schools that attract students from around the county.
      1. For example, I have a friend that knew that college would be hard to pay for and she is extremely interested in Cosmetology, so she took this two-year 4 credit certification, that once completed she is certified for FREE.
        1. Other examples would be firefighting, EMT, automotive technology, and culinary arts.
      2. These students have found their passion and found a way to get certified without even leaving high school. These are programs where students are looking to get out of the monotonous classrooms and learn a job skill for the future. Reach out to see if you can host a demonstration, participate as a guest speaker, take on a shadow, or serve as a mentor.


    To me, women coming to our schools for 'Ladies, Lunch & Learn' began the conversation regarding mentors. Mentors are vital in this growing professional space and it starts with you. Take McLean HS as a key example of how easy it can be to reach out. Therefore, I encourage you to reach to your local high schools today.

    Caroline French

  • 2.  RE: The best way to engage with the next generation? Visit a high school!

    Posted 05-31-2019 02:32
    Manufacturers need capable people who have studied emgineering and technical subjects, or have a practical grasp of shop math and an aptitude for learning.  Low achievers on their way to cosmetology might have also eyed unskilled manufacturing jobs in 1950 or 1970, but this is 2019!  If the US is to compete in the world -- we've run a trade deficit every year since 1976 -- many more higher-achieving students need to be engaged.  Consider careers where the need is great, not just those exciting passion in a wannabe world.  This includes students with options, from places like McLean!  Doers are needed, like industrial engineers to design better and greener processes,  not just writers or advocates or investors with promising ideas.