YWCA Students Explore Future Career Possibilities

May 6, 2016

Ten-year-old Damon pretty much has his future planned. “I’m going to be a businessman,” he said. “I’m going to have a building and it’s going to be very high and each floor will have a store. There will be a video game store, a phone store, a toy store and a food store. My building’s gonna be cool.”

A participant in YWCA Central Alabama’s After School Enrichment Program for homeless children, Damon isn’t the only YW student thinking about job possibilities. He and his friends recently enjoyed a week-long program that gave them an up-close look at career opportunities in fields such as construction, culinary arts, engineering and veterinary medicine.

“Oh, the Things You Can Be,” was the brainchild of five members of Project Corporate Leadership, a program for upwardly mobile managers and professionals in Birmingham. Team members are Marvin Burrell of Alabama Power, Thomas DeBray of Balch & Bingham LLP, Jennifer Hartzog of Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law, Russ Kolmin of Protective Life Insurance Company, and Erica Sellers of the YWCA.

“Our team felt drawn to providing a learning experience for the students because we recognize that lack of exposure and limited knowledge of choice affects many of our city’s children,” Hartzog said. “We wanted to provide them with opportunities to learn about different careers and services so that they might see possibilities for a successful future.”

Each day focused on a different theme and the children visited various worksites throughout the week. They traveled to the top of the Wells Fargo building to see the Birmingham skyline. They talked about careers in architecture, engineering and building maintenance and got a better understanding of the importance of math and science.

The students also learned about careers in the utilities field and saw a bucket truck demonstration. They toured a commercial kitchen at Samford University and learned about the people who grow, distribute, sell, prepare and cook foods. Another day focused on careers with animals, including groomers, zookeepers, farriers, trainers and veterinarians. The group also visited the Birmingham Botanical Gardens and focused on careers in farming, landscaping, preservation, and plant sciences.

Partners for the camp included Protective Life Insurance Company; Samford University; Wells Fargo; EBSCO Industries, Inc.; Birmingham Botanical Gardens; Burr &  Forman LLP; Alabama Power Company; and Hendon + Huckestein Architects, PC.

“We had fun,” said Morgan, a third-grader. “We went on field trips and learned about all kinds of things. It was almost too much to describe.”
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