Career Interviews – An Inside Look

Chloe Smith is the UWM PhD student leading the English classes working piloting our Career Interviews project.  She’s published a blog post about the experience here

Things are off to a good start:

I’m blown away by how engaged these students have been, and how willing they are to work through a research process that, for most of them, is entirely new. They’re approaching these interviews—and the prospect of the research that will come after—with enthusiasm and creativity.

How conversations lead in interesting directions

Shevaun Watson, Director of the composition program in UWM’s English Department, and I met for coffee in April to talk about her work on the landscape of languages.  Followers of Learn Deep know of our interest in maps as a point of engagement for students, and I was curious to learn more.  There’s an interesting project in that work, particularly for schools with students who speak a diverse range of languages.

Towards what I had expected to be the end of our conversation, Shevaun asked what else we were working on.  I mentioned an idea that had originated in conversations at Reagan High School.  While the school had healthcare career tracks, students had little sense of the broad range of careers inside of healthcare or the varied paths people might take to get there.  We thought an interesting way to address that would be to have students interview folks in a wide range of health care careers.  The focus would not be on the classes they took or what their day to day work looks like, but the experiences they had which led them to their career and helped develop the skills they now use.  We saw this as a process that could be used across domains, and, if the stories could be gathered and told by students across the community, a great resource for career exploration.

Shevaun was intrigued — she and her colleagues have been looking at ways to leverage the humanities for community engagement.  They were also getting a little tired of reading “interest papers” on abortion, gun control, and legalizing marijuana.  She asked “What if we gave you a couple of sections of a freshman English class to pilot the process?”  Over the summer we met with Shevaun’s team and teachers from Reagan, New Berlin, and Dr. Howard Fuller Collegiate Academy to map out what that might look like, and what the high schools teachers would need to pull the work into their classes.

Our pilot is now underway.  We tapped our network to assemble a pool of interview candidates that includes everyone from a community healthcare advocate  to bio-medical engineers to sports medicine professionals to an attorney representing the rights of the disabled.   Students will conduct their interviews the week of October 7th. We look forward to where this will lead.

Collab Lab 33: Career interviews project

What if high school students thinking about college or career options could hear the stories of how people doing interesting work in Milwaukee recognized the opportunity and developed the skills they now rely on?

We’re working with high school teachers and faculty in UWM’s English department to develop and pilot a process to collect and present these stories. This fall UWM students conducted one hour interviews with folks in careers that touch on healthcare.  This semester, UWM students will be joined by a group from New Berlin’s Eisenhower High School to interview members of Milwaukee’s tech community.

This is your chance to hear from folks who were part of the process and share your ideas and feedback as well look towards next year. Join us to connect with K-12 colleagues from across the area, as well as community partners from higher ed, industry, and non-profits to share ideas and explore options where collaborative efforts could help move this along.


5:30 – 6:00 Grab something to eat and drink, say hello

6:00 – 6:30 Introductions

6:30- 8:30 Let’s work through some ideas

Food and beverage will be provided. There is no charge for participation but space is limited!

Featured Participants

Chloe Smith, Noor Fleifel, and Evan Miracle

Chloe is a first-year PhD student in Public Rhetorics and Community Engagement at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her research interests include equitable education practices, teacher training, and public writing. In addition to her coursework at UWM, Chloe teaches two sections of College Writing and Research, co-edits a blog called Writing & Rhetoric MKE, and serves as a student representative on the Graduate Policy Committee.  Noor & Evan were students in her fall semester class.  The produced communication pieces that drew on issues identified in their interviews.  You can read them here:

Psychiatric Care in Milwaukee

The Systematic Suffering in Sorrowed Straits


2023-24 Collab Labs

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