Exploration is the Key to Connecting Coursework and Careers

Scott Schaefer and Alton Carter are Career Development Specialists at Meridian Technology Center. In this role, they help students in Meridian’s partner schools match their interests to a career through career exploration.

Meridian Staff Dedicated to Helping Students with Career Planning 

Story provided by Meridian Technology Center

It’s never too early for students to start thinking about their careers, and Meridian Technology Center is committed to helping students examine their options.  

Meridian’s Career Development Specialists Scott Schaefer and Alton Carter help students make these connections and then guide them through career exploration exercises where they learn what they need to do now to set themselves up for the future they want.  

“Career exploration really starts with narrowing down your interests, focusing on what you’re good at, and looking for a career that matches that,” Schaefer explained. “Our work is very future driven. We help students see a connection between what they are doing in school today and how it can relate to their future career.” 

Much of Schaefer and Carter’s career exploration activities take place away from Meridian’s campus and in classrooms across the district. Meridian serves residents from the Agra, Carney, Glencoe, Guthrie, Morrison, Mulhall-Orlando, Pawnee, Perkins-Tryon, Perry and Stillwater school districts. Schaefer and Carter work with students as early as sixth grade and then continue throughout their high school experience visiting classrooms weekly or monthly. Content is customized to each district, and the activities are tailored to each grade level. This might include taking career assessments using okcareerguide.com, researching career trends, salary information and exploring jobs that are currently open in each industry.  

Carter describes his classes as discussion-based, where he presents a concept and then lets the students guide the session. 

“It’s not me up there lecturing,” he said. “It’s the students talking about the topics we’re covering. They are learning, and they are leading the conversations.” 

For example, his most recent session with Agra Public Schools focused on the concept of following up once you apply for a job.  

“There’s a lot more to getting a job than turning in an application,” he told students. “That’s just the beginning.” 

The session also covered following up on your application and what to wear to an interview.   

Elevate U 

In addition to the duo’s work across the district, they also lead Elevate U. This new program helps Meridian’s students prepare for their next steps, whether that includes additional education or moving directly into the workforce. When students participate in Elevate U, they spend additional time focused on crafting a résumé, honing their interview skills through mock interviews, and developing additional employability skills like communication, working in teams and problem-solving. Schaefer and Carter also help students use OKjobmatch.com to pair their résumé with available jobs across the state.  

For Schaefer, when students can connect their passion with a purpose and a career, there’s a bit of magic.  

“One of the most rewarding parts of my job is when students make the connection between what they like to do and what they can do as a career,” he said.          

Discovery Day on December 1 

Carter is currently working with businesses throughout the district for Discovery Day, an event that introduces district 8th-graders to various careers. Companies set up interactive booths across Meridian’s campus, and then attendees have a chance to talk with representatives about what a career in that industry would be like.  

“Conversations with students during this event include learning about career options in the field, understanding what a typical day is like and learning what training is needed for employment in that industry,” Carter said. “It’s also an opportunity for industry representatives to share what makes their career meaningful.” 

Discovery Day is planned for December 1. There is no cost for businesses to have a booth. Companies interested in taking part can contact Carter at altonc@meridiantech.edu or 405.377.3333.  

Meridian Technology Center has been a driver of economic development since 1975. With a mission to educate, enrich lives and secure economic futures, Meridian offers full-time career training programs, short courses, workforce and economic development assistance and entrepreneurial support to residents from the Agra, Carney, Glencoe, Guthrie, Morrison, Mulhall-Orlando, Pawnee, Perkins-Tryon, Perry and Stillwater school districts. Meridian is one of 29 schools within Oklahoma’s CareerTech system.