I have been invited to be a part of a career day at a local elementary school.
I’ve done this before. Students at the junior and senior high school level generally have a good idea of what they want to do with their lives, and I’ve met many who are interested in learning what it takes to be a writer.
But in this instance, those that I will be talking to at this career day are in the third, fourth and fifth grades. I’m not sure how many of these little folks are thinking about what they want to do when they hit eighteen and are headed for college. At that age their biggest thrill is that they are excused from regular classes for an afternoon to talk about careers.
I have spoken with eighth grade students, taught classes in freelance writing to beginning writers, and organized seminars for freelance writers, but I don’t think I’ve ever had an audience this young. Calling it an audience is a misnomer because I’ll get 10 students at a time for 10 minutes. These groups will cycle through the gymnasium and stop at each presenters’ table to learn about a possible career path, so I will be repeating the same information over and over for three hours.
At first, I wondered what I could possible say to them that would inspire them to want to pursue writing as a career. There may not be one child in that school who will become a paid, published writer. So, I have been trying to determine what I can actually say to them that will be of benefit to all of them, and I think I’ve come up with a plan. (Although it could change drastically over the next few weeks.)
I plan to give each group a quick overview of the different types of writing jobs that are available, but most of all, I believe this is an opportunity to encourage each student to become a better writer in general terms. The best thing they can do is to learn to write coherently, precisely, and correctly; to learn about grammar and increase their vocabulary knowledge.
They should know to never stop learning, and that means going beyond what the teachers are teaching in the classrooms. They need to go to the library and check out books on as many subjects as they like, and learn as much as they can. That is what will influence their choices in the future.
If I can encourage them to read more as well as to write better, it will stand them in good stead in whatever career path they choose when they are older.
If one of them should become a famous reporter or fiction writer with a best seller, I can only hope that they may remember something I have said to them and they will remember me in their memoirs. If we as writers can inspire someone else and watch them become successful, that is a great honor.
Plus, they’re going to like me more because I’m going to give each one of them a little gift to take away from the table; a pencil or notebook or big eraser. I know about promotions. I’ll be their favorite.