Finding Common Ground at "Planting Seeds"
At Godfrey-Hoffman Associates we take great pride in mentoring the upcoming generations of our industry. As professionals, it is important to learn what students’ interests are, and what issues they are passionate about. This helps us figure out what might draw a young person to this career field, and get a read on some of the general trends and attitudes of young people entering the professional world.
On April 6, 2018 GHA participated in a career outreach session at Common Ground High School in New Haven, called “Planting Seeds. Growing Leaders. Cultivating Community.” Styled around a “speed networking” event, students and professional met for about 10 minutes per session to learn about various career fields. Students then rotated to the next pair of professionals to begin the process over.
Godfrey-Hoffman Associates has a special connection with Common Ground High School: GHA performed the surveying and site engineering for Common Ground’s new LEED certified building (read more about what LEED is here). And, GHA Survey Manager Calvin Weingart’s son Ben graduated from Common Ground and was able to gains skills and work experience through the opportunities provided by the school. The goal of “Planting Seeds” was to expose students to a wide range of career paths. Some of the careers represented were an economist, electrical engineer, artist, solar energy technicians, and of course, land surveyor.
Calvin was invited to partner with an electrical engineer as part of the “technology” representatives. They both met with about five students in each session. Calvin provided students with a handout with information describing what surveyors do, how to enter the career field and how students could get in touch with him if they wanted to learn more. He shared experiences with them about what he likes most about land surveying, from working outdoors to seeing different parts of Connecticut, and having to use creative problem solving to accomplish projects on a daily basis. He emphasized that surveying has different subsets of tasks that a person might be interested in, such as drafting, working outdoors, research, technology, and more. Calvin also encouraged the students to prioritize academics, and take advantage of the myriad work and learning opportunities at Common Ground.
After the group discussions, all participants joined together to enjoy “family style” lunch during which the students were able to share what they learned, and give feedback about the program. Calvin found the overall experience very rewarding. He made connections with state representative James Albis from East Haven, as well as an employee of Kohler Ronan Consulting Engineers from Danbury. He had great conversations with students about their interests, and how those interests can be related to a job or career. Common Ground students are especially passionate about environmental science,teaching sustainability, arts and culture, and community involvement. This should come as no surprise given the school’s sizeable garden, the presence of so many animals, the wide ranging curriculum and close proximity to West Rock Ridge State Park.
Events such as “Planting Seeds” are an important part of GHA’s grassroots efforts to provide exposure to surveying and guide high school and college students who exploring different career fields. The organizers of the event are in the process of further developing the session into a hand-on experience lasting several hours. The goal is to expose students to the actual tools and technology specific to each career field. GHA will continue to be a presence in such efforts to educate and mentor a new generation of professionals in our field.