Millennial Must-Reads are student-contributed posts by members of the "Millennial" generation - America's 18-29 year-olds - on current events and politics and public service. Viewpoints expressed are exclusively attributed to undergraduate authors and not endorsed by Harvard's Institute of Politics.
Throughout high school, I was always told that my goal should be to get to college. With the exception of a few wonderful educators, my public school system seem to reinforce this idea. Going to the Career roundtable on Education reform, however, utterly changed my perspective on what the educational system is, and what it can represent for future generations.
Every week, the Institute of Politics holds a different career roundtable. The goal of these events is to get students acquainted with the career fields they are most interested in. From working on Capitol Hill to careers in green and sustainable development, there is no telling what panel of specialists the IOP will bring together to give students insight in how to succeed in the respective field.
The office of Internships and Career Services hosted a roundtable on Education Reform. Braving the rain, eager students turned up to the IOP, filled plates with a great dinner, and sat down, anxious to hear the secrets of how they could make their passion a career.
I didn’t get it. While I am a political enthusiast, my knowledge on what education reform entails was limited to the handful of headlines tossed around during the election, many becoming non-existent past November. I thought – I had a decent enough experience in public schools, and I had no personal connection to the issue – so what could I possibly get out of this?
The panelists dove in head first. Telling their personal stories, why they got involved, what their first job was, where they see the field going, etc. Once these anecdotes were over, there was a brief moment of silence as the audience gathered their thoughts. As people began finishing off the last bit of dinner on their plates, the questions began. Questions on policy. Questions on alternative methods. Questions on the current administration. Questions on logistics.
I was amazed at the scope of fields and the range of programs that made up the field of education reform. The panelists were more than willing to talk about everything, answer every question. They even stayed behind to talk to students and answer personal questions.
I thought the field of education reform boiled down to two things, teachers and policy. Thankfully, I was more than briefed on the realities and opportunities that this field has to offer in terms of a career.
In the end, this is what I love about these roundtables. Even if you think you know something, you leave the room with an entirely different perspective and a new idea of where you want to end up in the future, not to mention, tangible pieces of advice. The roundtable on education reform, something I recognized as a problem but had no connection with, suddenly became very personal. I was able to hear first-hand what the problems are and what the consequences will be if we fail to act. Attending this roundtable made me rethink how I want to dedicate my time after graduation and what sectors I should be focusing on. Even if I don’t go into education, this roundtable helped me come up with real steps to take, now through graduation, as I think about the beginnings of my career path, and how it relates to politics and public service.
Sylvia Percovich is a sophomore in Leverett House. Sylvia was born in Peru but migrated to South Florida when she was eight. Her heritage led her to declare a concentration in Social Studies sophomore fall in order to focus on Latin American development. She has also been involved in political campaigns, a Veterans project, and other organizations on campus.
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