On March 18, Kareem Cousar, project manager, led two career talks at Gary Comer Youth Center. The career talks were organized by the Leaps and Bounds Program which provides summer employment and college/career preparation for high school students. Cousar, who has been employed by the University of Chicago for six years, shared his college journey, career choice, and current responsibilities with 30 freshmen.
Cousar brought construction drawings, a hard hat, and safety vest to provide context to his description of project management responsibilities. He described how demanding yet rewarding it was working on his first major project, the Gordon Parks Art Center. Cousar showed pictures of the opening gala that was held when the project was completed. Students were excited to hear that George Lucas, Samuel L. Jackson, Janelle Monae, and Melody Hobson attended the event.
After the 20-minute presentation, students began asking thoughtful but challenging questions like, “What kinds of grades did you get in high school?” “What did you think you were going to be when you were in high school?” “What sort of obstacles did you face in college?” And “what inspired you to study architecture?”
As he answered the questions, Cousar used their interest to emphasize the importance of staying focused on academics and seeking exposure to different kinds of careers. He also introduced other possible career tracks for architectural majors including the class’s favorite, video game designer. It was clear the students appreciated Cousar’s candid responses because he was invited back to attend their upcoming networking social where students will learn how to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.