LBI School Students Gain Real-Life Experience During Career Day

Photo by Jack Reynolds: Sonny Vilardi

Ship Bottom, NJ — Anyone walking into the LBI Grade School the morning of Jan. 10 would have thought they arrived at the site of a job fair, not an elementary school. In some ways, they would be right – at least for sixth-graders attending the school. Their morning schedule, in part, included a 10-minute job interview.

“I wasn’t nervous last night,” Sonny Vilardi, who was interviewing for a position as an astronomer, said prior to meeting with Long Beach Island Consolidated Board of Education member Georgene Hartmann in the tech lab. “I am now.”

Still, Vilardi, like classmates Emma Reiser and Rylee Guerriero, expected his interview to go off without a hitch because he had prepared for it by studying a list of potential interview questions compiled by teachers as part of the cross-curricular unit of career exploration.

“I did a mock interview with my mom (last night) and picked out my suit,” Vilardi said of how he prepped for his big moment. “I am confident; I know all the answers to the questions. And I am looking nice.”

His self-assurance took him through his interview with Hartmann, never failing to answer questions lobbed at him with confidence and a strong voice. That was especially true when he answered what he has done to show a willingness to show up and work.

“I get up at 5 a.m. some days to play hockey in Wall (Township). I want to do it,” he said, noting later in his interview he would prefer to work for personal satisfaction over money. “If you do a job you don’t like, then you’re stuck in it, and that’s no fun.”

When asked whether he would rather work for money or personal satisfaction, Aidan Malley, who interviewed with district Superintendent Peter J. Kopack, also school principal, said he wanted to work for “a little bit of both” money and personal satisfaction.

“I don’t want to walk to work and be like, ‘Ugh, not this again,’” Malley said, earning high marks for his answer. “I need money for a car.”

In the afternoon, students met with individuals from their prospective careers and were able to ask specific questions about the individual’s career path. Career day was the culmination of a cross-curricular program that began in the fall and encompassed math, language arts and tech lab.

“It just got bigger and bigger,” Guerriero said of the program, which began with students taking a career interest inventory.

The results, in conjunction with interests and skills, determined a possible career path. In technology classes, students prepared presentations that highlighted their career research findings, while in math they learned about budgets and how far, and fast, a salary goes.

Despite the months-long program, Reiser called the experience “unexpected” but in a good way.

“I am really excited,” she said prior to her interview as a pre-school teacher, a career path that she said is right for her. “I babysit my little cousins. I knew I wanted to be some type of teacher, or a veterinarian. I am happy with the (possible) job I have.”

— Gina G. Scala

Reposted from The Sandpaper on Jan. 15, 2020