Westlake High School's Career Cafe
If you ask a high school student what they want to be when they grow up, some have a clear vision, others have a vague idea and the rest have no clue. It is a tall order for these students to decide what to study once they head off to college. That is where the Westlake High School Guidance Department is offering help.
The Career Cafe, now in its fourth year, is an opportunity for students to hear professionals from a variety of fields explain what it is they do and the path they took to get there. It is enlightening to students who may be confused about their future to discover that not all successful people started out that way. Each year, guidance counselor Tania Greco, along with her colleagues, organize two to three “cafes” for approximately 35 students. Each cafe has a theme in which students interested in that career path can apply to attend. Past themes have included Business & Finance, Criminal Justice & Law, Engineering, Medical & Health, and Civil Services.
The theme of this year’s first Career Cafe was Education and Human Services. Professions in this field might include teacher, administrator, school counselor, social worker, psychologist or psychotherapist. Three guest speakers volunteered their time to give advice to the students interested in pursuing this career path. Guests included Marcella Moran, MA, LMHC, a licensed psychotherapist who works with families to develop positive strategies for students who are disorganized, Dr. Ken Cotrone, the Head of School at Soundview Prep School in Yorktown and Dr. Lisa Salvi, a licensed clinical psychologist, with over 20 years of experience.
The overwhelming advice from each of these speakers was to find something to be passionate about and go out and do it. Dr. Salvi suggested taking courses in many different subjects to discover that passion. It is essential to keep an open mind and it is ok not to have a concrete plan even after graduating from college. Dr. Cotrone said the qualities that helped him transition through four different careers (from comedian to television production, to advertising and stock brokerage) before finally getting into education were persistence, hard work and never giving up. Each speaker agreed that networking was a key to their success. Making contacts and maintaining good relationships with people helped get them where they are today.
The students asked intelligent, thought-provoking questions and each wrote thank you notes to the speakers at the conclusion of the session. Lauren DeMartino, a junior at WHS, has attended several Career Cafes and expressed that they are a great tool to expose her to the many options available after graduation.
That is exactly what the Guidance Department loves to hear.