Fossil Ridge students in Keller ISD get career tips from professionals

dfwnewsa | February 3, 2024 | 0 | Fort Worth , Fort Worth News

Fossil Ridge students in Keller ISD get career tips from professionals

Fossil Ridge High School sophomore Hunter Lewis, left, and freshman Hayden Long chat with Kimeeka Holmes, director of college, career and military readiness for Communities in Schools of Greater Tarrant County, at the Keller ISD campus in north Fort Worth on Jan. 24, 2024. (Jacob Sanchez | Fort Worth Report)
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Fossil Ridge High School freshman Hayden Long and sophomore Hunter Lewis learned a refreshing lesson on a recent Wednesday: Adults struggle and don’t know what to do when first starting a career.

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Long and Lewis were among more than 100 Keller ISD students who gathered in their school’s fine arts center to hear from six working professionals about opportunities in STEAM, or science, technology, engineering, arts and math. 

Communities in Schools of Greater Tarrant County and UWorld, a Dallas-based organization that helps students be career ready, hosted the discussion in the north Fort Worth school.

Michael DePauw, a chemist who works for UWorld, told students that the path to his career wasn’t straightforward, even though he did everything right in high school.

He started his higher education journey at Tarrant County College. Then he ran out of money. He didn’t get the scholarships he wanted. He had to wait three and a half years before returning to college.

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“At which point then I finally fully applied myself,” DePauw said.

He advised students to seek help if they need it. However, it takes some research.

“People are interested in helping you to move forward in your career path and in your lives, in general,” DePauw said. “Take advantage of those opportunities.”

Panelist Melissa Sandler told students that they should pick a career pathway that leaves plenty of wiggle room. Their first steps should get them started but allow for plenty of options for jobs in the future, she said.

In high school, Sandler didn’t know what she wanted to do after graduation. She signed up for an internship at a small, family-owned pharmacy just to try it. She fell in love with the work and set out to become a pharmacist.

Internships are a way to explore possible career paths, Sandler said. All it takes is making a connection.

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“If you’re polite and interested, people want to help you,” Sandler said.

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Building connections is as simple as signing up for LinkedIn and messaging people in fields students are interested in, panelist Avinash Cherukuri said. He did that and landed his dream internship at BlackBerry.

“It’s always taking that first step,” Cherukuri said.

Hayden and Hunter, two of the Fossil Ridge students in the audience, appreciated the advice.

“They gave us a lot of information, and we need that,” Hayden said. “Not all of our classes teach us these types of things.”

The most helpful tip Hunter, 16, took away was that people want to help him — he just has to reach out.

Hunter and Hayden, 14, know exactly what their first steps after high school will be. 

Hunter plans to attend Sam Houston State University to study criminal justice. Hayden wants to study social work at the University of North Texas.

Neither plans to go into STEAM, but both said they now know how to better navigate their career pathways.

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Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise journalist for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at jacob.sanchez@fortworthreport.org or via @_jacob_sanchez. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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