In the Spotlight: Middle School

Technology Campers Explore Careers at HACTC

For a second year, the Hartford Area Career and Technology Center (HACTC) hosted a Summer Technology Camp the last week in June for students entering seventh through ninth grades. Camp activities encourage students to spend a week exploring and developing skills in various technical fields. On Friday, July 1, nearly 80 students from 11 Upper Valley middle and high schools rounded out their week at the HACTC Summer Tech Camp with a career exploration workshop led by the Upper Valley Business and Education Partnership (UVBEP).

Throughout the week, students participated in hands-on projects in the following career fields: auto technology, building trades, culinary arts, design illustration and media arts, engineering architectural design, industrial mechanics and welding, natural resources and robotics. On the last day of camp, students spent time with UVBEP staff reflecting on their experiences and exploring various ways to identify potential careers suited to their interests. Starting out with a “life clock” activity, students were asked to put into perspective the percentage of their lives they would likely spend working – encouraging them to take time to explore many fields and find a career they truly enjoy and at which they excel. The life clock also gave students the opportunity to reflect on their accomplishments to date and their goals for the future.

Campers then completed interest surveys to determine their academic and lifestyle interests and strengths. Using Job Notes, a NH career resource newspaper, and O*Net, an online career exploration and job analysis resource, students found potential careers that matched their interests, and related jobs found to activities completed that week at camp. Finally, students reviewed a career family tree, which challenged them to identify and describe what their parents, siblings and extended family members do for a living, and to identify patterns in their families’ job histories. This final activity was designed to prompt campers to continue a dialogue about careers with their family members at home.

After much discussion about careers, many students volunteered that they already have part-time jobs ranging from lawnmowing to babysitting. Others indicated an interest in finding part-time jobs in the near future. This discussion presented the opportunity for students to participate in a role-play exercise where they practiced introducing themselves to a potential employer. Broken into pairs, students practiced the correct way to make eye contact, smile, shake hands, introduce themselves and make a positive first impression.

The Summer Technology Camp is an excellent example of linking classroom learning and career development in a way that prepares students for a changing world. UVBEP works year-round to enhance teaching and learning in the Upper Valley by making educational experiences like those at the Technology Camp relevant to students’ futures.

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