8th Grade Career Project Set Trajectory for Graduate’s Path

“I have to find a career mentor to shadow for a day, and at the end explain why I would or would not choose to do this for my career,” explained Kyle Rutman one day after school. As a new 8th grader, he was completely at a loss for what interested him enough to pursue as a major in college, let alone a career path.  

Kyle held a moderate interest in math and science, so he selected engineering — not because he knew what the field entailed, but mainly because it sounded “cool.”  He also loved Disney, especially the architecture and story behind the rides and attractions.  Kyle’s father had majored in film production in college and had a professor who simultaneously worked part-time for Disney Imagineering.  Although 25 years had passed since Kyle’s dad had spoken to his instructor, he decided to look him up and ask if Kyle might shadow him for this assignment.  Expectations were low, but he picked up the phone and left the professor a message:  “Hello, Bob. I was one of your students 25 years ago at LMU.  I know we haven’t spoken since the last day of that class, but I have a question for you…”

Two weeks passed.  Two more messages.  No response.  So Kyle secured another career mentor — an uncle who worked at MacAfee.  The next day, however, to everyone’s surprise, Bob returned Kyle’s dad’s phone calls. He apologized for the delayed response, explaining that he had just returned from Asia, as he was now a Senior Show Producer assigned to Hong Kong Disneyland, overseeing two new cruise ships, as well as several new projects in Glendale.  After a walk down memory lane with Kyle’s father, he agreed to the request.  A few weeks later, Kyle spent the day touring Disney Imagineering, talking with Bob and other Imagnineers, learning about the vast array of careers within Imagineering, and the multitude of career paths leading into and within the corporation.  

That day changed Kyle’s future.  

He came home announcing his goal to become a Disney Imagineer.  Still unclear about a college or major, the following year he took Art I and discovered an interest in that area as well.  His quest continued throughout High School, learning all he could to realize his dream.  He researched and studied Imagineering, Imagineers, job titles, the Disney College Program, the qualifications for the Imagineering Internship Competition, and the Disney Corporation in general.  

By Kyle’s senior year, most of the puzzle pieces fell into place, and he set his plan into motion.  He began working at the Camino Real Playhouse, operating the lighting and sound booth during plays.  In fall 2017, through the Disney College Program, he will gain employment with Disney, enroll in the Associate’s Degree and Certificate Program in Architectural Design at Saddleback College. After completing that, he will transfer to a Southern California university near Disney — perhaps California Polytechnic University, Pomona or California State University, Fullerton, and major in Technical Theater Design. He will then continue on to complete a Master’s Degree in Architecture, allowing his career ladder with Disney to grow with his training and education.  

I’m not sure if I would have ended up in the same place without it, but my 8th Grade Career Project definitely started me thinking and learning about a career way sooner than I ever would have, said Kyle.  “I’m excited to have a plan in place for the future.

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