The following piece was provided by Watertown’s Innovation Career Collaboration:
In this first year of CoLAB, Watertown’s Innovation Career Collaboration, 10 young scientists from five Watertown companies led 49 career exploration sessions at Watertown High School.
These real-world discussions kicked off an effort to create a career development community for Watertown students to access the resources they need to build satisfying careers in the innovation economy.
Hoping to open the eyes of students to the wealth of careers available to them here in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), a few volunteers from Watertown life science companies and Watertown High School started talking in mid-2021. By June 2022, we had reached virtually every biology, chemistry, and math class at the school – over 750 student-hours.
Our students and scientist presenters tell the story best.
“What I took away was that it is not an easy journey to find what you love doing.”
“Working in science isn’t just sitting behind a lab desk and each day can be different (there are many different aspects to the science field).”
“Just because one thing does not work out doesn’t mean that it is the end and you should keep trying to find your way through things.”
“You don’t need to be firmly decided on a career yet, plans can change and it won’t lower success.”
“There are many different ways to have a career in science and different ways to get there.”
“The teacher thought the advanced class would be more interested than the lower-level one, but that class absolutely loved it. They asked so many questions – one was, ‘What if I injected myself with Cheetah DNA?’ It seemed to be a silly question, but I answered it and it got them excited enough to ask more. The enthusiasm was contagious.”
“I was the first in my family to go to college; growing up, there weren’t a lot of career aspiration discussions. I tried to frame my talk as ‘I was sitting right where you were, I had the same grades. This wasn’t just an option for me, it’s also an option for you.’ Without knowing what’s available, it’s hard to be motivated. It’s easier to study for that chemistry exam if you have a goal in mind!”
“Speaking to an ESL class really had an impact, because I was an ESL student myself. I was asked by a Peruvian student if I had indigenous blood in me. We found out that we actually both have roots with the Mapuche, an indigenous South American tribe. Learning that I was like her was a powerful way of showing she could do this, too.”
The career exploration effort has grown into CoLAB, Watertown’s Innovation Career Collaboration, a partnership between the public schools and our growing community of life science and technology employers. In addition to in-class presentations in 2021-22, we provided field trips to three life science companies – SQZ Biotech, Enanta Pharmaceuticals, and Lyndra Therapeutics.
In fall 2022, we are planning a pilot mentoring program and organizing a feasibility team for high school summer internships.
For more information, please contact Merle Kummer, email@example.com