Ask students what they like best about school, and field trips will be high on the list for most. Kids are hungry to get out of the classroom and learn more about their world through experience.

Hernandez Middle School International Baccalaureate (IB) coordinator Desiree Le was able to provide just such an experience for more than 500 students recently with visits to businesses in Williamson and Travis counties—an endeavor right in line with Hernandez’s focus on postsecondary readiness.

The career exploration day for students is a massive undertaking made possible through the partnership between Hernandez and the United Way of Williamson County. United Way provides hundreds of hours of support and helps recruit businesses for the school-wide field trip, appropriately named “What Will IB Day.”

“This partnership is an opportunity to influence the lives of students in an impactful way,” Laurie Garza, director of resource development for United Way, said. “Providing the opportunity for all students to see firsthand the many options available will hopefully inspire students to see themselves in these careers.”

When students return from the trip, they spend time debriefing about their experience. Le said this is her favorite part of the assignment because the students’ enthusiasm about future possibilities is palpable, and they begin to explore different paths to make their career aspirations come true. Eighth-grade student Colin Crippen said he got a front-row seat to the realities of working in a newsroom.

“I went to CBS Austin because I have been wanting to be a video editor for some time and going on the trip helped me see what was involved,” Colin said. “I got to see the whole process for how a news station works, and it opened my eyes. I also saw how stressful it could be in the master control room. If I had the chance to do it again, I most definitely would.”

Feedback from the businesses is exceptionally positive, Le said. Across the board, students impressed business owners and staff with their knowledge, thoughtful questions and enthusiasm. At U.S. Rep. John Carter’s office, staff said they saw several future potential presidential candidates in the room.

“This event is a great opportunity for our students to see firsthand the career opportunities that are available to them in their interest area,” Carter said. “Team Carter had a great group of students that learned how legislation passes Congress, what an elected official does daily and the history of our great country. It’s such a wonderful opportunity for us to be able to pass our knowledge on to the next generation of leaders.”

Hernandez Middle School and United Way of Williamson County plan to recruit additional businesses to participate next year.

Round Rock ISD would like to thank the following companies for hosting our students:

395th District Court
Austin Pets Alive!
Blanton Museum of Art
C3 Presents
CBS Austin
Central Texas Harley-Davidson
Commissioner Precinct Two, Cynthia Long
Community Impact Newspaper
Congressman John R. Carter
Dana Incorporated
EMS Station
ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas)
Georgetown Police Department
Google, Inc.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Hutto Fire and Rescue
LBJ Presidential Library
Microsoft Store at the Domain
R.O.C.K., Ride On Center for Kids
Round Rock ISD
Samaritan Health Ministries
Southwestern University
Spirit Reins
TEL (Tokyo Electron Limited)
Texas Public Policy Foundation
Williamson County Animal Shelter
Williamson County Sheriff’s Office
Williamson Museum
Univision Local Media

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