Career Realism

Touring local businesses builds career awareness.

At the start of the 2016-2017 school year, CUSF announced funding for Career Realism, a new project designed to help ninth and tenth graders research and explore careers they might not have considered in high demand fields such as culinary science, veterinary medicine, engineering, carpentry, child development and more. Urbana teachers Kris Sherrick, Pam Furrer, Amanda Rosser and Kyle Thomas developed the idea with Champaign  teachers Brad Anderson, Robin Bidwell, Marc Changnon and Dave Johnson. The project was funded with a generous gift to CUSF from James and Karen Sue McKechnie.

In November, more than 130 students from Centennial, Central and Urbana High Schools toured businesses related to their career areas of interest. Businesses selected for tours included:

  • Gill Athletics
  • University of Illinois Veterinary Medicine
  • Ikenberry Dining Center
  • Parkland Child Development Center
  • University of Illinois Maintenance and Facilities
  • Carle
  • State Farm
  • John Deer
  • Plastipak
  • Blue Waters Super Computer
  • Caterpillar

Students were surveyed immediately following the tours and 79% said they discovered a career they are interested in learning more about. When asked what they learned from participating in tours, students said,

I would love to look more into the math and statistics aspect of State Farm.
A job at Blue Waters seems very interesting.
I’m interested in PTA (physical therapy assistant).
I learned about apprenticeships and opportunities for employment.
I learned how much community college has to offer.
You can grow in a job with a high school diploma.
I learned how welding and such work.

The team of teachers involved in project say the tours were a valuable investment in time and resources. Plans are underway to improve and expand Career Realism during the 2016-2017 school year, thanks to funding from the McKechnies.

Students tour the John Deere Technology and Innovation Center at Research Park. One student commented, “John Deere doesn’t only make tractors.”