Speaker Presentations Offer More Than Just Career Advice

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During Writers Week, dozens of writers come to the school to spend their time inspiring new generations of writers. They speak to students as literary equals, perhaps contemplating whether the next J.K. Rowling is sitting among their ranks.

But the students to whom they speak are a different story. Instead of relishing the opportunity to learn of a world beyond textbooks, they do their math homework under desks, tune out and even cut class.

In doing so, students lose the opportunity to gain exposure to the real world, find an interest they can pursue for the rest of their lives and just get advice.

Writers Week is not the only time guest speakers come to share their lives.

Recent visitors have included award-winning authors like Khaled Hosseini (“Kite Runner”) and Daniel Handler (“A Series of Unfortunate Events”), human rights activists, environmentalists and a member of Stanford’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) team, whose autonomous car won the 2005 DARPA Challenge race across the Nevada desert.

Guests have come from almost every field, bringing years of stories and experiences to share. One of the greatest opportunities they offer is the ability to connect the education the school provides with a real career. Writers explain how the techniques they learned in high school factored into their latest novel; human rights activists talk about the Amnesty International Clubs they founded at their school.

But beyond offering professional advice, these speakers can offer much more. Older and wiser, they have experienced life to a degree that even many teachers have not. They can even offer advice about getting through high school—all one has to do is ask.

Instead of viewing speaker time as a free period, students should actively listen to presentations and absorb as much information as possible. At the very least, students will learn a potential career may not be for them. And at the best, students will not only be exposed to exciting careers they never previously considered, but they will also leave with priceless advice on life.