Looking for a Job? Go to Counseling.

Shawnee Mission South unveils a new real world learning initiative aimed to help students explore jobs


Beginning this week, students will have the opportunity to learn about different careers during seminar. It marks the beginning of South’s first Seminar Speaker Series. The initiative was organized by College Advisor and Real World Learning Coordinator, Traci Johnston.

“Everybody comes in saying they want to be a doctor, a dentist, a lawyer, but there are so many unique jobs out there,” Johnston said. “The goal is to find different things you won’t know or learn about.”

Some of the speakers are Johnston’s neighbors or members of the SMSD community, while others are professionals she found online. The first speaker, Craig Sole, is a floral designer. This year’s lineup includes speakers from a variety of industries, including aviation, insurance, and beauty.

Junior Noah Vacek was surprised by the speaker for March: a funeral director.

“It just doesn’t seem like something that a school would have,” they said, “but it’s definitely interesting.”

Johnston says the presentations will be relatively informal. Speakers will share how they arrived at their job, what their lifestyle is like and what classes might be beneficial for that profession. Then, students will have the opportunity to ask questions and see if the career is a good fit.

“I’m not trying to make it a big presentation,” Johnston said. “I just want to get kids in front of a business so they can learn about it.”

Although the Real World Learning program is new for SMSD (it was developed in partnership with 50 local school districts and the Kauffman Foundation in 2019), there are a variety of tools that students can access to jumpstart their professional futures. Johnston recommends that students use YouScience to find out how their strengths align with different careers.

“It doesn’t mean students have to do those jobs,” she said, “but it helps them learn what they’re good at.”

The Real World Learning program also offers internship and job shadow opportunities. If students are able to fulfill their graduation requirements, they can replace a class period with cadet teaching or an outside internship during their senior year. The Seminar Speaker Series, however, is open to all students in all grade levels.

To attend a presentation, students must sign up before the desired seminar session. See your grade’s Canvas page or use the QR code on the poster below to register.