For the past four years, the St. Mark's Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning has sponsored Career Day at the School. The objective of Career Day is to provide St. Mark's students with a dynamic and tangible experience that connects their academic pursuits with potential professional endeavors in the future. It is also an exciting opportunity for alumni and parents to connect with St. Mark's students and to provide expert insight from their wealth of experiences.
Career Day is one way that The Center encourages students to explore their interests and passions as an extension of their academic program and in the process better understand themselves, their community, and the world. Since its inception in 2013, close to 100 different alumni, more than 70 different parents, and other friends of the Schjool have participated in Career Day.
Fifth and Sixth Formers travel to New York City and the Greater Boston area, participating in job shadow experiences to gain first-hand knowledge about being a professional in a variety of industries such as, Consulting, Finance, Business Management, Architecture, Healthcare, Public Relations, and Engineering. Third and Fourth Formers remain on campus to learn about different careers and job skills such as effective resume writing, appropriate use of social media, and interviewing techniques from traditional and non-traditional career professionals.
James Bartlett is both an alumnus (SM Class of 1985) and a St. Mark's parent (SM Classes of 2017 and 2018), and he has been involved in every St. Mark's Career Day to date. Bartlett is the President of L.S. Power Equity Advisors, specializing in renewable infrastructure investments, and he has participated both on-campus as a Career Day presenter and off-campus as a job-shadow host.
"When they first told me about Career Day, I thought it was a great idea," said Bartlett recently. "I thought the School was doing something very smart." Bartlett found it a challenge at first. "I never was good at public speaking, and I had to figure out how to connect with students," he recalled. "But it was good getting out of my comfort zone. I thought about those teachers and mentors that I have had in my life, and the concept of connecting, of teaching, was interesting to me. After all, I want to be a teacher to my own kids."
Jim Bartlett was on campus that first year, in 2013, and he has been once again since. "Going into the classroom, I had to find a way to relate to them, to open their eyes," he said. "I So I told them 'you can't possibly know what you want to do with your lives, and if you think you do, you're stifling yourself." Circumstances, he noted, can change. "I wanted them to be able to be flexible, but also to identify their passion. I encouraged them to recognize that 'Aha!' moment, like fireflies in a jar, and then to figure out what to do with it."
Bartlett has also twice hosted Fifth and Sixth Formers at his New York office. "I found the best way was to challenge them," he said. He would introduce them to the idea of renewable infrastructure investment, then pose a one-page problem—a deal involving a power plant, for example—and then leave them for 45 minutes or so to hash it out in a group session. "It gives them some perspective," continued Bartlett, "and also gives them an opportunity to meet the actual people doing the work."
Many of the SM Career Day hosts and presenters offer special mentoring and/or Internships for students, either for summer programs or for the new Lion Term experience. The success of Career Day certainly depends on alumni and parent volunteers who host students off campus in their places of work or participate on career panels for students on campus, but those who cannot make it to Career Day can also offer an internship or be a mentor.
"I'm excited that we're celebrating the 5th anniversary of Career Day this year!" says John Camp, Associate Director of the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning at St. Mark's. "Career Day is truly a St. Mark's community event, with alumni, parents, and friends converging to benefit our students. As great as the experiences are for the students, I see the day as equally enriching for the connecting, reconnecting, and sharing among all of our volunteers."
This year CAREER DAY will take place on Wednesday, March 7, 2018.