Community volunteers shared college, career and life advice with about 200 Frisco ISD students during the annual Independent Study and Mentorship (ISM) Business Symposium on October 11.
ISM is a challenging course elective designed to help Frisco ISD juniors and seniors explore their career interests and prepare for the future. It falls under the auspices of the FISD Gifted and Talented program and requires an application in order to ensure students are prepared for the rigor and course expectations.
During the symposium, local professionals volunteered their time to conduct mock interviews, evaluate student resumes and help students build networking skills.
“You have to think about what you’re going to do to get to where you want to go,” Mary Kay development specialist Lisa Ploeg told a student from Wakeland High School. “Look for leadership opportunities.”
Over the course of the school year, ISM students interview community members who work in a chosen career field and then select a mentor to gain real world experience.
“When I was a kid, people made fun of you for having braces,” said Centennial High School senior Arsh Singh, who hopes to become an orthodontist. “After I got my braces off, I felt so much more confident and was smiling a lot more and that’s why I want to help others.”
Heritage junior Kiymarah Thomas told Dr. Brenda Kihl, provost of Collin College Preston Ridge Campus, why she chose to focus her ISM studies on trauma surgery.
“Just the fact that someone else’s life is in my hands,” Thomas said. “I know for other people that might be stressful, but for me, it’s a challenge and I love challenges.”
Juniors and seniors must first apply and interview to participate in the ISM program. The goal is for each student to explore a particular interest and discover his or her passion.
“This is the time for highly motivated students to ascertain if a particular career path is the right fit for them,” said Julie Martin, coordinator of the Frisco ISD Gifted and Talented program. “They might discover they aren’t interested in a certain profession after all. Our hope is that they graduate with a better idea of which major to pursue in college.”
A benefit of the program is helping to save students and families the time, money and stress that is often involved with changing majors at the university level.
“These top students have figured out the ‘game of school,’” Martin said. “We have outstanding, driven students, yet they often don’t know what they want to be when they grow up. ISM helps them select a career or narrow their focus within the medical, business or arts professions.”
During the class, students focus on original idea generation and product design, improving oral presentation skills, intense research, resume writing, business etiquette, working independently and goal setting.
It all culminates in May when students individually present their original product creation and what they have learned from their ISM experience.
“I was amazed with her self confidence and her ability to present to the public,” said former Wakeland parent Keith Lesko, whose daughter spent two years in the ISM program studying commercial photography. “I couldn’t do that when I was 17.”
The retail executive was so impressed with the program, he’s volunteered twice so far to assist with the Business Symposium.
“I watch these students make eye contact, their mannerisms and maturity level. It’s very different than the perceived work ethic of kids today,” Lesko said. “It restores my faith in the future of this country. It really does.”
Watch the video below to learn more.