Cool kids, COOL Week


Sabrina Dagher-Arevalo worked at Four Paws at Four Points Veterinary Clinic during Cool Week. Photo by Veronica Pardo

Savannah Burchfiel

Instead of spending February Conference kicking back and relaxing, certain seniors took advantage of the break to try on different careers for size as they participated in COOL Week – Career Opportunities on Location.

Each year, all Leander ISD seniors are given the opportunity to spend the week as short-term interns in real-world jobs. Those who accept the challenge are placed in different workspaces based on the career they plan on pursuing next year when they leave Cedar Park. The options for placement change yearly and range from careers in technology, medicine, politics and sociology.

Senior Kat Hill, who will be attending Texas A&M and plans on studying Petroleum Engineering, spent the week at the engineering vanguard Samsung.

“I wasn’t sure about my exact major, so I chose a generic placement because I like math and science and I know they lead to profitable careers,” Hill said.

According to Hill, COOL Week encouraged her to pursue an engineering degree despite being unsure about which field she is interested in.

“I absolutely loved my experience at Samsung,” Hill said. “Hearing about the engineers’ doubts they faced at my age was encouraging and reaffirmed that I want to become an engineer.”

Senior Katerina Lee, who also attended Samsung, plans on studying Biomedical Engineering in the fall. COOL Week was the first opportunity for her to be immersed in a real-world work environment.

“Even though Samsung isn’t related to what I want to study, the engineers I met gave me an idea about a professional work environment and told me that the workspace is relatively the same at every site,” Lee said.

As another student who plans on pursuing a career in engineering, senior Gabe Haro was one of the select few students who received a coveted placement at NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. For Haro, being at NASA was a valuable experience.

“Meeting the different engineers gave me a feel for the paths they took to get there,” Haro said. “The week gave me a better idea for paths to take for my education and career.”

While many COOL Week placements relate to technology and engineering, others stray far from science. Senior Gabrielle Ford sat in on the Texas Senate, which gave her experience relating to her interest in international relations and politics.

“Spending a week in the Texas Senate gave me information about what college I should attend and what opportunities to take advantage of,” Ford said. “I want to do the same work but on a global scale.”

Many students who participated in COOL Week agree that the opportunities laid a foundation for their future careers.

“You have to start somewhere,” Ford said.