One and done is not enough! Student perceptions of careers change over time, and their knowledge of the wide array of job opportunities in advanced manufacturing is limited. Even if students have family members or other people they know in advanced manufacturing, they may have limited understanding of the variety of skills, pathways and jobs in the field as a whole. Repeated exposure and providing a wide variety of experiences related to advanced manufacturing can help students experience and understand the wealth of options available to them. In addition to starting early by providing opportunities for elementary and middle school students to explore STEM fields and advanced manufacturing, be strategic about the breadth and depth of the information you share. Make sure you are providing repeated exposure to various aspects of advanced manufacturing to showcase the many types of applications for STEM programming.
Career development is a process that occurs over a long period of time and includes many sources of influence. Children are frequently asked what they want to be when they grow up before they understand what a career is, and they frequently answer with responses that are not careers at all. Sex-role stereotypes are formed early, and at-risk students, girls, and minorities often limit their career choices early. Many young people will make a career decision that follows in the footsteps of a parent or close relative, primarily because the career is well-known and the pathway to enter it understood.
The process of helping students see career opportunities that are outside of their own life experience requires significant exposure over many years. It is unrealistic to expect that a student will want to enter a advanced manufacturing career after their first experience with the field. Limited exposure or too much focus on one aspect of advanced manufacturing can also lead to missed opportunities to widen your recruitment pool. Students need repeated exposure, experiences and encouragement to make a career decision that is outside of their life experience.