#120 Experiential Learning: Unlocking Your Teen’s Career Path with Drews Mitchell Transcript


Lisa Marker Robbins 01:05

Experiential learning for teens is a cornerstone for informed career exploration and decision making our guests Drew’s Mitchell is a dedicated career and college counselor at Loveland High School in Cincinnati. He’s sharing his expertise on creating meaningful experiential learning opportunities that empower students to dive deep into potential career paths. We unravel how starting career awareness early lays the foundation for a more focused exploration in high school, through job shadows, internships, and even pre apprenticeships. Drew’s highlights the importance of early exposure, practical experiences, and reflection in helping teens clarify their interest in forge valuable networks. We explore a variety of strategies to engage teens, including strategies for those who might be a little hesitant or unsure about their future path. Drew’s emphasizes the role of conversation choice and focusing on hopes and dreams to motivate students towards exploring potential careers. Whether your teens High School offers something similar or not, you’ll get actionable advice and inspiration to create hope and momentum for your team. I’m Lisa marker Robbins and I want to welcome you to College and Career Clarity. A florist coaching production. Let’s dive right in to a great conversation.

Lisa Marker Robbins 02:35

Drew’s metal Welcome to the show.

Drews Mitchell 02:39

Well, thank you so much. It’s a joy to be here, Lisa.

Lisa Marker Robbins 02:42

So I mean, we met when you were in your first year of a school counselor. How many years ago was that?

Drews Mitchell 02:48

That was see 17 years ago. Okay.



Lisa Marker Robbins 02:55

Since that time. I have watched you go from school counselor to college counselor. And now in this is a reason why I wanted to have you on. You’ve got so much wisdom that has come from the work that you’ve been doing for your school district Loveland city schools, and Cincinnati, Ohio, as what was your official title? Because I screwed up every time and occasionally you guys changed it on me.

Drews Mitchell 03:25

Yeah, well, I don’t help that cause because I put the it’s officially college and career readiness counselor. Okay, but I flip flop and I put career in front all the time. So I just tell folks, I’m a current college counselor, because we want to make sure that kids are thinking about what they’re going to do before where they go for school. Speaking

Lisa Marker Robbins 03:47

my love language is about the we’re thinking about this in the wrong way. We usually the college bound folks go college then major later than, Oh, what the heck am I gonna do with this major? Not a good idea. Right. And I think what I also love about it, because I see this in my own children, and I know you know, I had the pleasure of giving your children the Berkman personality assessment back when they were teens navigating all the things on every kid’s gonna go to college. So I like that you start with career, because you know, and I know that the process for getting clear on what comes after graduation, whether that’s after high school graduation or college graduation, if that’s in your plans, the process is the same.

Drews Mitchell 04:36

Yeah, really, for sure. So, one of the things

Lisa Marker Robbins 04:41

as a career in college counselor that I love that I hear not only from you, but I hear from the families in your district I’ve had I’ve known some of the students from your high school, that they get really cool, experiential. Learning in the career space. And so I want to share what that means, you know, something we do in module four of my launch Career Clarity course. And so you and I know the importance of it. But I, you know, I think a lot of people hear that and go like how like, Well, my school doesn’t do that, you know, a parent listening. My school doesn’t do that. We don’t have a Drew’s metal at our, at our high school. How would we even go about that? And they just don’t see any possibilities. And I’m often saying to my executive coaching clients, and the students in the course like, Okay, well, what does that make possible? And I think that this episode is all about possibilities. So let’s define like, what is experiential learning? Yeah.

Drews Mitchell 05:50

So this is a topic that you can go 50 miles deep, 50 miles and fraud, oh, there’s so many neat ways for families to engage in the opportunities to see and experience the real world. And I love the fact that this can be looked at from an awareness piece, it can be from an exploration piece, it can be from a planning piece, it can be from a doing piece. And so to us and what we’re doing as a school district, we really want kids to see beyond themselves. It hit me like a ton of bricks when I was still a traditional school counselor, when a mom shared this information with me, she’s like, you know, what, they’re what you’re doing, it’s good. But kids only know what they know. And it reminded me so much of the fact that we were taking them to a variety of different considerations and our exploration based solely upon, let’s say, interests, as opposed to interests and aptitudes, the richness of the Berkman as an example was a ding, ding, ding moment for me, because we then want to ensure that kids were seeing themselves in a true light, not just based upon what they knew or what they liked, or their passion, which is nothing wrong with pursuing interests, obviously, you know, we’ve talked about that before, but there has to be a tie to skills. So with that, in this, it was important for us to ensure that they understood themselves from a true light, and that they understand the world of work from a true light. So for us experiential learning, really, in a formalized sense starts in sixth grade with presentation formats where kids are having a chance to talk or watching some videos through and we use school links are a lot of good tools out there, Roadtrip Nation, embedded in Dobby has so many good ways. Again, career onestop I know, Lisa and I both feel that that’s a terrific place to get some information, a lot of good starting points for just that awakening piece. But the experiences then become real like in seventh grade when there’s a presenter coming in and talking a little bit about their role in let’s say, a STEM related career just in the students stem right career what and then there’s, again, a continued awakening, perhaps a conversation that leads them to potentially job shadow experiences that lead them to internships or extended career shadows, or pre apprenticeships, or

Lisa Marker Robbins 08:19

Yeah, I want to get into some of those aren’t you know what I? I love that, like what that mom? Well, first of all, that’s why you’re such a good counselor, because you’re you’re engaging not only with the kids, but with the parents, and you’re listening, and that’s why I just think you’re a rock star at what you do. But you know, that mom, she had a great point. And I see this a lot of times if I’m talking to a kiddo, and you know, with within the lunch Career Clarity course, we have a monthly q&a with me. And occasionally a kid will come on and they’ll say something like, you know, I’m thinking about being an actuary. And then I know right away that that kid has a family member is an actuary because no 10th or 11th, or 12th grader really knows what an actuary is. And so, I love that you’re doing things starting as and I hope everybody heard you. I’m gonna repeat it starting as early as sixth grade. Yeah, you start building laying a foundation that you’re going to build on through the upper grades once they get into high school, to start to build awareness, because kids don’t know what they don’t know. Right? They only know the careers that their parents do or that they excel Of course they know what a pediatric nurses because they go to the doctor’s office, right? But they don’t know what it means to become a nurse. Right? They you know, they see that it’s caring for people. But in last week’s episode, I had Casey Cordis from the University of Cincinnati on and she helps kids with like if they get there and they’re uncertain about their major, figuring out if they To stay or should they should switch. And she said, you know, she’ll get kids come and say, but I just, I’m in a chemistry class. So I don’t understand why I’m doing this. I just want to help people. And she’s like, Yeah, you got to take a lot of science to get through nursing. And if you just want to help people and not take all the science, and she helps them figure out that, okay, public health might be a great way to do that, or something like that. Okay, so you start laying the foundation early. So I want parents to hear like, start talking. It’s middle schools, not too young to start having those conversations. Yep. And so you, you get these kids, and I know you’re working with them as young as sixth grade, but they they get to the high school. So let’s talk about what experiential learning looks like. And that 10th 11th and 12th grade? And I mean, first of all, just talk about you just gave us a whole bunch of different things that it could be you gave us a whole bunch of labels. Yeah. That was extended. Yeah. Right. Tell us some some of the different types that there are that students can do.

Drews Mitchell 11:03

For sure, I’ll sell my booth through an order that’s based upon commitment level, and one of my favorites is in you. And I’ve talked a lot about this, but the value of a job shadow. And really being prepared for that experience, having good communication and doing something with that experience, honestly leads to the other steps in experiential learning. So I really like to park on that one just for a minute and offer some ideas that I found to be successful for students. You know, you and I have had the joy of seeing our own now adult children, step through some of these doors and seeing the benefits. And then we’ve also kind of stubbed our toe sometimes. And knowing Okay, that didn’t work. So

Lisa Marker Robbins 11:49

when even if you do the job shadow, and you think I mean, I see kids get disappointed when that happens. And I’m like, No, that’s the coolest, because we just rolled something out.

Drews Mitchell 12:00

Absolutely. So that job shadow, it’s okay to start. Again, we encourage kids as early as ninth grade here in Loveland to participate in job shadows, we have a couple experiences set up for them. And we allow them to set that up on their own. So what does that mean? Well, in this case, we asked families to consider their primary network in regards to those opportunities. So it does kind of keep in that, hey, I only know what I know. But it’s comfortable there. Let’s say a student is going to work with an aunt and uncle, mom, dad, grandparent, whomever, but unknown, to be able to practice some of the skills associated with becoming more mature high school students. So they could be professional related to communications, we offer some ideas about the soft skill development, thank you note, follow up all of those things that can help to make a meaningful experience for that student. So a one day shadow that they set up on their own. So some ideas on that, because that was important, too. I

Lisa Marker Robbins 13:05

want to as you get, get ready to get these ideas like Sure. Parents, this is why I encourage, you know, a lot of colleges say come here, we’ll help you figure it out. And I think that’s completely the wrong way to do it. Right. Some expensive way to do it. Right. But parents, you’ve got to be involved like you’re a cheerleader, but you’re also a connector, you’re not the doer. Yeah. But you’re in the, you know, if the the student should be driving the car, but you should still be in the passenger seat, like when they’re first learning how to drive. Right. So they’re helping make connections. Okay, so talk to us about this.

Drews Mitchell 13:41

Yeah. So in those discussions with families, we encourage first, is there a relative, a family friend, someone in the neighborhood that is already known, this is someone who have trust in that inner circle of trust that they feel comfortable having their students spend the day with, and then equipping that student with some questions that are going to have been my favorite is equipping that student with the question. What’s my story? After they ask themselves that question? So in this particular case, as early as ninth grade, what’s my story? What does this mean to me right now, we know that there’s some ninth graders that can answer that question well, and what’s it basically trying to get to the heart of what their interests are? And there’s some they’re working through it, that’s okay. That’s a maturity piece. But then they after they’ve asked themselves, what’s my story? Or what’s the heart behind what I want to do or what I desire to do? Then ask that same question to the people that they’re spending time with that day, or that maybe a couple hours shadow experience? Because the resources available in the Occupational Outlook Handbook. Terrific. Those serve as a wonderful tool to give kids like a guideline like work environment as a example. Pay He considerations job outlook, all that data is there. So they can get some good information about the job itself or the career or whatever it might be that they’re most interested in. If it says cluster and again, gray, that’s totally fine. And then the specific business that they’re visiting, learning as much as they can about that either just been going to their website reading a little bit totally fine. But coming equipped to ask those questions of meaning. So what is my story? And what is the heart behind a desire that can make for a wonderful experience?

Lisa Marker Robbins 15:32

I have a question, because I know some parents would say, my kid’s gonna resist this. And you know, I know that. Yeah, we’ve, we’ve both raised some kids. Yeah. And we both have worked with teenagers for over 30 years. So when you have, I want to hear how you answer this. And then I’ll tell you how I advise parents. So if a parents say like, my freshman is not even ready to think about their story, or any of this. Do you encourage people to, like, kind of say, well, we’re just gonna do one? Or do you say, like, lay off for a while, like, what is your experience been in the schools that you’re working with a much wider array of students? And I am admittedly, yeah,

Drews Mitchell 16:20

yeah, totally. So to your point, what a wonderful question, the end of the individualization of this approach is huge. It just makes such a difference. It’s overwhelming in a public school, and it’s overwhelming for a parent. And like, the difference between like, like two kids, older, younger, whatever, male, female, all like you take all of that on top of their own individual personalities. And it’s crazy. So here’s my, my big counselor ask, and what I learned. And it’s truly it’s one of those, like hidden gems, like when you taught me about common data set 17 years ago, and my jaw dropped, if you remember, that was great. Well, this is what that I love when families come back. And they’re like, you know, it just keeps the conversation going. And it takes defenses down. It’s a simple question. And we all ask it, but sometimes we will think about asking it is the Tell me more? So when, when there’s resistance to looking ahead, when there’s resistance sometimes is, as you’ve talked about, and does such a great job? Is it fear based? Is there some imposter syndrome going on? Are they listening to voices that aren’t necessarily speaking truths? Like peers sometimes do? are they holding on to something? And so by asking that question, can you tell me more? Tell me more. And so if the student is, is I don’t want to just what tell me more about that. Like, I just want to play video games will tell me about that and, and getting to in the SOP perfect. It’s not some secret sauce. And it’s not a magic wand. But it helps to build that bridge. And I use 10 tips for life planning with families that I think can be helpful that are based in that idea of telling me around awareness and flexibility and being focused. Allowing the student that okay, we don’t have to talk about this right now. How about we bring this up again in a week? What does this look like and allowing them the choice of would you like to go to Starbucks to talk about this, or hey, I know you really enjoy

Lisa Marker Robbins 18:33

it. I love it. I’m gonna interrupt because I love the Starbucks idea. I teach my my followers and those in my course, said A, especially if you’re getting ready to invest heavily in the college, you set a college bound conversation every week from the second semester, sophomore year, starting at the very latest, all the way up until everything’s submitted, right, senior year. Yeah, and there’s plenty of things you can always use. It’s gonna be a minimum of 30 minutes, it might be an hour and a half or two hours. There was resistance at first, but then they warm up to it. And one of the stories that I love that came out of a family and my course was they decided to do Saturday morning pancake breakfast. Right, as you said, after time, they were finding them sitting themselves sitting around the table all the way up until lunch. And it just, it was a fantastic because food was involved, right? Yeah, I often ask my executive coaching clients, what might that make possible? Which goes right along with the Tell me more, right? Absolutely.

Drews Mitchell 19:39

I love that. Yeah, I love the 10 year dream too. If you’ve done that activity, parents, if you’re a parent, listen, that’s a great one just to open up some avenues. We see kids, especially at the high school level, who tense up when you ask them, What do you seniors, what do you get to do next year and there’s this like common like, it’s like putting nails down a chalkboard. For those of us who had chalkboards, and in the poor kid because there’s some pressure, and they’re not exactly sure what they want to do, and they’re all of my friends have it all figured out, which of course is a fallacy. Absolutely, they feel this immense pressure. And so someone asked, well, what are you going to do? But if you ask them, tell me about your dream in 10 years, what do you want life to look like? Everything changes, and that conversation begins to then get to those places of meaning. So when some and I tell kids this all the time when we’re meeting, or you have something that you can say that is meaningful to you, it’s okay to have that statement of, you know, I’m working through these considerations of engineering versus underwater basket weaving versus parachuting my three favorites. And and you can say that, honestly, because they’ve worked through some steps of research. Absolutely. So to your point, I think it is important to allow that student to be able to have some say in what it looks like, but to continue to ask

Lisa Marker Robbins 21:02

you got Yeah, I mean, especially if you’re, you know, the process is the same whether you’re college bound or not of vetting what that first step into the world of work is going to look like, you know, the process of how we get to what is going to be, what you use, and what I use with non college bound students and college bound students, the process is the exact same. If you’re going to do college, then there does come a point because there is a very real deadline to college applications, my friends, yeah, that you’ve got to just say, No, we’re going to do this. Like I can’t invest even in paying hundreds of dollars for applications, let alone 10s of 1000s of dollars for college until we do some of this stuff. So okay, you talked about in here we are we’re, I knew the time would just fly, we’re probably going to need to do like a two part two parter, right?

Drews Mitchell 21:55

Oh, good. You know it.

Lisa Marker Robbins 21:59

Okay, so job shadow. Yep. What, what comes next, like, yeah, your next batch,

Drews Mitchell 22:06

I saw so much love this. Because out of that shadowing experience, we encourage reflection, and journaling is great for some discussion is better. Potentially, developing a SMART goal out of it is really good. Building a relationship with someone and the shadow experience. So let’s say someone shadowed at a company, and they met three different people. Hey, where’s one I really resonate with Santa thank you to all three, but maybe another follow up with that person, may I volunteer for you for a week? Is there a role for me to be engaged still further within the company that you work for, and that volunteer experience potentially in the summer then could potentially lead to and that could be, let’s say, let’s move forward a little bit like junior year. So we’re talking about students are typically able to drive that kind of exactly. Maybe that shadow experience, then could be an after school internship, or if again, depends on the school district, if the student is able to go to the school counselor and say, and again, we can do this in Ohio through a program called credit flax. And there’s other states are doing this as well. In this case, can I create an experience with this person who’s willing to fill out all the liability paperwork to have a, an internship experience during the school day, and that’s the kind of long term but it can all start from that conversation that happens after the job shadow with. And again, that is going to happen this way. Every time. As we know, this is just kind of that if you were talking about the like the ideal kind of way to get to a place of developing your own experience. That’s a good way to start. So the short term job shadow to maybe something longer with volunteering in the summer, to an after school experience to maybe even something during the day.

Lisa Marker Robbins 23:55

Well, I think two people will push back at me sometimes when they hear me say high school internships, first of all, they do exist, right? It they’re not invisible. And there is a create your own. But to just to ask at that high level is a big ask. Yep. And so starting with Can I just talk to you about your job? Right? Yeah, yeah. Even even before a job shadow? Can I have a conversation on Zoom or meet at Starbucks or whatever it might be? And then do the next Ask after that is successful? But plus, you might even learn something and that lower level conversation that leads you to believe like, yeah, I wouldn’t want to do a job chat or there, or, or an internship or volunteer, or things like that. Right?

Drews Mitchell 24:46

Absolutely. And you get an idea to the student at that point. It kind of gives a sense of if they’ve spent a half hour talking that person informational interview, and like, oh, yeah, I would not want to spend like a week volunteer in this particular capacity, All right, great, you know, for half hour of time, no problem. And those conversations like if someone goes to a school counselor that can be a catalyst for that engagement, I found that the local chambers of commerce, huge help, again, there’s some workforce needs in our area. And so there’s tends to be a willing engagement on the part of businesses to talk with students who might be exploring, we’ve seen like, for in Ohio, Ohio Means Jobs. So workforce development agencies, either state sponsored, local, whatever, and then college admissions counselors after someone’s taking a tour on campus and expressed an interest in certain major talking to someone, obviously, that major you and I’ve talked about the value of that and just having a good conversation, you’re considering psychology, great, making sure you talk to someone who’s a professor of psychology who can then be a person you come back to and say, Hey, I’d love to talk to someone who is practicing psychology, let’s say clinical is my area of interest, can you suggest a person I speak to about their job? And so the local universities can certainly be a help to?

Lisa Marker Robbins 26:07

I think, too, you know, kids get nervous that oh, how are you know, admittedly, so I mean, I remember when my own kids could hardly pick up the phone to make their doctor’s appointment. And I was like, No, you’re gonna do it. I’ll sit here. But just like the ways that we did that, you know, to kind of show them do it with them at first. Yeah, I think another thing that kind of takes the pressure off of our kiddos is to say to them, you know, be work at being interested and the other person instead of feeling like you have to sell yourself and be interesting. Yeah,



Lisa Marker Robbins 26:49

Because you could start, I encourage kiddos we help students put together a LinkedIn page as part of our course. And we do that because A, we use LinkedIn, not only to start to build their network for the experiential learning stuff, like you’re talking about, but also to research jobs and colleges and certain fields, and we teach them how to leverage it in that way inside the course. But I sometimes say to them, like, make your cover photo, just something like you’re a hobby or an interest. So it might be a football team. It might be that you like to ski. So it’s a picture of skiing or the mountains. Yeah. Because the conversations that could really lead somewhere sometimes start talking about you volunteer at the Humane Society with pets.

Drews Mitchell 27:38

Right. Right. And I

Drews Mitchell 27:41

love that so much because it gets to the heart of the issue. Like, what’s my story? What’s the heart behind what I want to do and desire. The Burkman is a wonderful tool for starting to unpack the heart behind things and wonderful, rich conversations with family members with obviously, we’re talking about experiential learning. So we’re professionals in the area and helping students to see yes, so my skills, my strengths, my interests, my abilities, that’s all the heart.

Lisa Marker Robbins 28:11

I love it. Well, Drew’s Okay, we’re gonna have you back for part two, because I know there’s a lot more that we can do with this conversation. So much fun. This was a fantastic starting point. You’re not able to keep in touch with all of our listeners.

Drews Mitchell 28:27

It would be great. It’s a little it’d be a little tricky, though. It’d

Lisa Marker Robbins 28:31

be a little tricky. So what I just want to say is Loveland city schools and since Cincinnati, Ohio just outside I guess, officially we’re out in the suburbs, right? Yep. Are they’re doing a fantastic job. You guys are role models for other districts. I think our listeners could even go to your, your website for your school and I’ll link to it in the show notes if you want to give me the best place to send them to just say like, Hey, here’s here’s what’s possible. I think that inspires parents who are doing this with their kids. You know, I some type of stuff that I’m doing inside our college major and career coaching course the launch course and giving students the Berkman and you might be able to inspire your school district if they’re not already doing something cool like this to replicate something like this or figure something like this out. So yeah, yeah, for sure. All the hard work you’re doing and the public schools I you know, I’m a public school teacher at heart. Sorry, I started and I love it. Thank you, for

Drews Mitchell 29:37

sure. It’s a joy

Lisa Marker Robbins 29:44

as we wrap up our conversation with Drew’s Mitchell the pivotal role of experiential learning in guiding teams through their career exploration journey, it’s really evident how invaluable real world experiences are in shaping a young person’s future. From job shadows to internships. Drew’s has shared a wealth of knowledge on how to create opportunities that not only clarify interest, but also build essential networks for our teens. One key resource we mentioned, which is instrumental in making connections and researching potential career path is LinkedIn. To help your team navigate this platform effectively, we’ve created a student LinkedIn guide. This guide takes your team through a step by step process for setting up a compelling profile. You can download our student LinkedIn guide at flourish coaching co.com, forward slash LinkedIn, and I’ll put it in the show notes. It’s an essential tool in your teens career exploration toolkit, providing them with a head start and building their professional network and uncovering opportunities that align with their interests and aspirations. Thank you for joining us on this episode of College and Career Clarity. If you found the Insight shared by Drew’s as enlightening of I have, please consider sharing this episode with other parents. And I think Drew’s work at loved one city schools can be an instant inspiration for your school if they don’t already have a similar program. I’m Lisa Mark Robbins reminding you that with the right resources and guidance. Supporting your teens exploration of careers can be a transformative experience. Let’s continue to encourage our teens to dive deep into their potential and build a future they’re excited about