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Student Career Spotlight: Q&A with Gavin Jackson, an IPS Student Learning New Skills

Gavin Jackson (right) digs into a surprise package during his recent job shadowing.

Indianapolis Public Schools is proud of its students preparing for their careers after high school. We have created the Student Career Spotlight to showcase students participating in the IPS Workforce and Career Development project.

As part of the district’s Rebuilding Stronger initiative, aimed at upgrading school facilities across IPS over the next several years, the IPS Workforce and Career Development project is preparing students for success in the professional world. This program offers hands-on experience in architecture, engineering, and construction, empowering students to tackle real-world challenges.

Through engaging Q&A sessions, these students will share their transformative experiences found at area firms while job shadowing, being an intern or apprentice. From practical skills acquisition to navigating industry complexities, the students will provide firsthand insights into the impact of immersive learning.

Gavin Jackson, a senior at Shortridge High School, recently spent time job shadowing at Meticulous, an Indianapolis-based and minority-owned architectural firm working with IPS on Rebuilding Stronger.

Q—Why did you want a job shadow?

A—I wanted to explore the opportunities available to me to envision my future. There are a lot of businesses and companies out in the world that we can only view on the outside but it’s not very often you get the opportunity to see what the inside of the job looks like. I was joyed to be able to experience first-hand what is going on behind the scenes of my shadowed firm and was blown away at the change that was being made within our society due to the firm’s “meticulous” efforts. Shadowing also helps me decide on which major I want to pick by showing me which talents lead to which outcomes regarding the workforce. Although I am pretty set on the major, I want to believe it is good to be able to see first-hand where your chosen education is leading you.

Q—What specific career or industry are you interested in exploring through job shadowing?

A—I am interested in exploring architecture through job shadowing as it involves computer science and design. Considering I am interested in problem-solving and a little design I felt like architecture could be a possibility for me to excel with my interest. At first, I was not sure of what to expect, but I wanted to make sure I knew about the basics of architecture such as the design and construction of today’s buildings to ask relevant questions. As much as I knew about architecture however was not enough to prepare me for the entire nature of the architecture field.

Q—What did you learn about the day-to-day responsibilities of professionals in the field during your job shadowing experience?

A—I learned that work requires a lot more than just simple instructions from a boss. Architecture requires a full team of highly proactive and communication-efficient people each filling a specific task to make sure everything is going smoothly. On top of that, the work being done isn’t specific to those in the specific industry, collaboration with others outside of the firm must be made to ensure the global spread of the firm’s progress. Working with people of greater power such as the city council or the government is key to making sure that changes can be made within our society in the architecture field. Without the help of external sources, the firm’s goals for positive change may not have been as impactful as it is today which allows me to understand the importance of networking and communication.

Q—Did the job shadowing experience align with your expectations? Why or why not?

A—If I’m being honest, I wasn’t sure of what to expect when I walked into the experience for the first time but then I was nothing short of speechless once I engaged with the environment. The people alongside the elements in the location I shadowed were incredible, unlike most things you see in a normal 9 to 5. Not only was the aesthetic rather impressive, but the assignments going on within the firm were also a sight to see. I was happy to go around and observe all the coordinating and enacting going on during the typical workday which is part of what blew me away in the first place.

Q—What insights did you gain about the skills and qualifications required for careers in the field you shadowed?

A—I understood that I would need some form of college education along with some more specific training such as internships and onsite practice. A lot of required skills when it comes to architecture involve mainly knowing how to work on a computer which is something that can be achieved through personal practice through public resources like coding or architecture-based programs in general. I also learned that design is a pretty heavy requirement in the architecture field as you have to know how to design a structure before you can build a structure, although I think that may also have something to do with a college or higher level of education in that particular area as well. Lastly, a certain understanding of societal issues may be beneficial in the pursuit of the architecture field. This in general can help with the problem-solving aspect of architecture which will allow for more opportunities within the desired field.                    

Q—How do you plan to use the knowledge and experience gained from the job shadowing opportunity in your future career exploration and decision-making process?

A—I see now that a lot of jobs are leaving an impact on the lives of others and I want to make sure that I can do something that can make a difference to someone’s life. I will also use the knowledge that I have gained to achieve a highly successful job to maximize my ability to make change within the world. I now see the potential in becoming successful in the workforce and I see the impact I can leave on many in our community which is what I plan to do after understanding what it takes.