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March’s ‘Penn College & You’ Offers Career Guidance

Dr. Jeannette L. Fraser is among the guests on the March edition of 'Penn College %26amp%3B You.'Navigatingthe twisting path from daydream to “dream career” is the subject for the March edition of the award-winning “Penn College & You” television series, which offers this advice: In determining what to be when you “grow up,” you can’t start soon enough.

“We really should start with career development in kindergarten and go all the way through,” says Dr. Jeannette L. Fraser, director of Outreach for K-12 at Pennsylvania College of Technology, who is among those interviewed in the half-hour show. The new episode premieres at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 1, on SusCom Channel 2 (the Williamsport-area cable provider), with rebroadcasts at 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Sundays throughout the month.

“Career development is a lifelong process,” Dr. Fraser explains. “What makes sense for kindergarten students? The first piece is activities that help them start to see who they are and what they’re all about and what they like.”

Interviews with campus professionals, Penn College students and career-conscious business/industry representatives are interwoven with a mouths-of-babes look at youngsters’ ambitions.

While their older counterparts eyed jobs in aerospace, forensic pathology and astrophysics, one 5-year-old demands, “I want to be a doctor now!” and another alternates between “Power Ranger” and chef as his career of choice.

“One of your goals is to have students know more than ‘teacher,’ ‘fireman’ and ‘doctor,'” Dr. Fraser says. “So many kids, that’s all they know now. So the goal really is to try to get them to see a little bit broader range of careers than that when they’re very young.”

To help stimulate youngsters’ interests in the range of opportunities, Penn College this year offered an innovative Parent Career Fair for middle-school students and their families. The October event helped parents encourage their children to consider a wide variety of professions and to focus on ways that education can help them achieve their goals.

“There’s a lot of research that says parents have a lot more influence than perhaps they realize,” remarks Sharon Waters, Penn College’s director of counseling, career and disability services. “Kids really do look to their parents for some guidance and some support. Parents play a very pivotal role in helping a child make those decisions.”

Waters advises families to do their homework on career resources, with tools ranging from teacher involvement to at-home research on the Internet.

And sometimes, basic questions can ascertain a child’s true interests: “‘What do you like to do?’ ”Have you seen anything that somebody does that interests you?’ ‘Are there jobs you might want to learn more about?'” she asks. “Those can be very simple approaches.”

Over time, both Waters and Dr. Fraser say that parents should help their kids make the connection between their interests and possible careers. But in the end, the career choice and most of the work behind that decision rests with the student.

“What an opportunity to make your mark in the world and to spend some time doing homework that is selfishly about you,” Waters remarks. “Sure, it’s work, and it should be difficult work and concentrated. But, on the other hand, it’s a very exciting opportunity.”

The show also reviews the importance of vocational-technical education, the benefits of mentoring and job-shadowing, and the essential differences between a “job” and a “career.”

As Tom Speicher, the program’s host/writer/executive producer notes: “Most of us will spend about a third of our lives at work. If we don’t make the right decision on the front end, the back end could be quite painful.”

Christopher J. Leigh, a digital media developer,is thevideographer/editor/executive producer for “Penn College & You.”

Other Pennsylvania cable systems airing the show this season are: Altoona, Danville, Erie, Harrisburg, Hazleton, Lehighton, Lewisburg, Mansfield/Wellsboro, Milton, Reading, Watsontown, Wilkes-Barre and York. “Penn College & You” also is broadcast nationwide to all DISH Network subscribers on Universityhouse Channel 9411 on the first Saturday and Sunday of the month at 1 and 6 p.m., Eastern Standard Time.

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