Guest speakers are helping take some of the mystery out of the work experience for Bloomfield Hills Schools PREP students who are preparing for jobs in the community. According to PREP Teacher Russ McCall, “Our students sometimes get discouraged about their opportunities. They may be questioning their job sites or the job itself, so we wanted to give them some more information on jobs that people have done, what they liked, what they didn’t, and what advice they have for our students.”
Previously, guest speakers would come into the building and talk about their employment history, but Russ McCall now sets up and records an online interview with the guest speaker. PREP Teacher Meghan Gornick then watches the video online with the students and leads a group discussion. “We have a great conversation with the students as a result of these videos and get great feedback from the students,” said Russ McCall.
Dr. Jennifer Cook, veterinarian and member of the Bloomfield Hills Schools Board of Education, was one of the guest speakers. If I can help people think about career choices, that is valuable,” said Dr. Cook. “I didn't have enough advice as a young person!”
In the interview, they talked about Dr. Cook’s current career as a veterinarian, but also discussed previous experiences. “We touched on jobs I had in high school, like being a gym receptionist, and college, including my internship with a cardiologist," shared Dr. Cook.
Aaron McCall, brother to teacher Russ McCall, signed up to participate as well. “After I designed the brand identity for the program, I gained a deeper understanding of how important this program is. I thought I may have some experiences or stories that the students could find helpful or relatable.” The interview covered Aaron’s work experiences including being a pizza maker to an art director at a creative agency. “I shared how I got from point A to point B. We also talked about finding a job that you enjoy. Happiness is everything and should always be the goal in all aspects.”
At the end of the interviews, the speakers are asked to provide some advice for the PREP students. Aaron McCall told the students to keep moving forward in life. “You're strong, smart, and capable of doing anything. Ignore the naysayers, put your head and your heart into finding the thing that makes you happy. Prove the doubters wrong.”
Dr. Cook suggested that the students learn more about potential careers. “Talk to everyone and anyone you can who does that work, and try to spend quite a bit of time shadowing,” Dr. Cook recommended. “That's the only real way to get to know what it is like.”
P.R.E.P. is a post-secondary educational program operated by Bloomfield Hills Schools for BHS students. The program serves young adults ages 18 - 26 who have developmental and physical disabilities and is dedicated to helping each student become a Prepared, Responsible, Employable, and Productive member of the community.