Background: This was my script for my SkillsUSA Prepared Speech competition. It was delivered on Friday, March 22, 2019 at Atlanta Technical College during the SkillsUSA Georgia Postsecondary Championships. The SkillsUSA competition theme for the 2018-2019 year was SkillsUSA: Champions at Work, Career-Ready Starts Here, and the topic for this speech competition was how this theme “addresses the SkillsUSA program of work in the area of professional development” (source).
We were provided a list of questions related to this topic (via the SkillsUSA website) to use as a guide for writing a speech and preparing for this contest. I chose to base my speech on the following questions:
- Q2: What can you specifically point to within your career and technical education program that demonstrates Career-Ready Starts Here?
- Q6: What are the specific skills and abilities that a member possesses when career-ready?
Because I’m proud of this speech and the progress I made with my communication skills while preparing for this competition, I decided to share my script on here with you all. Enjoy!
Career-Ready Starts Here
How many decisions do you make every day?
Would you say 10? 50? 100? What about 10,000? Is that realistic?
While the number 10,000 might seem unrealistic, it’s not too much of a stretch based on various sources.
In a 2015 Leading Edge Journal article, Dr. Hoomans writes – and I quote – “an adult makes about 35,000 remotely conscious decisions each day” – end quote. He also states – and I quote – “As your level of responsibility increases, so does the smorgasbord of choices you are faced with” – end quote.
Contest judges, one of the biggest decisions students across the world have to make is what college they are going to attend after they graduate from high school as well as what organization they would like to join.
I remember discussing this same decision with my friends when I was a senior in high school. I told them that I was interested in applying to a two-year college. Although I thought it was a good idea, my friends did not. They asked me, “why?” They told me, “you can do better than that.” They encouraged me to apply for scholarships, so I could use that money to fund a four-year college degree instead.
While my friends meant well, I decided to go against the flow by enrolling in a two-year college and joining SkillsUSA, and I have to say, it’s one of the best decisions I have made.
During my career as a technical college student, I have gained three important skills that will help me succeed in the workforce and all areas of my everyday life. Those skills include dependability, teamwork, and a willingness to learn.
The first skill I gained is dependability.
My program of study is called Central Processing Technician, and it’s primarily centered around surgery and surgical instruments. When I applied for this program, I was well aware of its objective, yet I didn’t know that we were expected to dress and behave a certain way. For example, every time we go to class, we have to wear scrubs and our student ID badge, our fingernails must be short and clean, and we should never arrive later than the appointed start time. If we are late and we do not inform our instructor ahead of time, we will lose a certain number of points from our grade for that day.
Now you’re probably thinking, “surely you can’t be serious.” I am serious and don’t call me Shirley.
As ridiculous as it may sound, all of this paid off in the end. Because of these rules and expectations, my peers and I were able to succeed in the clinical portion of our program which involved us working as a Central Sterile Processing Technician at an assigned hospital. We showed up to work on time, dressed appropriately, and completed our tasks with diligence and little supervision as time progressed. Most of all, we were able to show the hospital employees and department supervisor that we were career-ready from day one.
The second skill I gained is teamwork.
During my time of enrollment, I have collaborated with various students to complete day-to-day tasks, organize different events and meetings, and achieve individual and team goals. As a result, I now possess a critical skill that is used every day in the Central Sterile Processing field: teamwork.
In the Central Sterile Processing department, there are four main areas every technician has to work in, which include decontamination, assembly, sterilization, and storage and distribution. Although these areas are different, they are interrelated which means the flow and success of one area depends on the flow and success of the other areas. While this notion can be nerve-racking, my technical education program has instilled the confidence and knowledge I need to be an efficient team player.
The third skill I gained is a willingness to learn.
If I were given a month to teach a stranger about all the aspects of the Central Sterile Processing field, I would not be able to cover everything because there is so much information to know and learn.
Because of that, I will always be a student at heart.
Every day is a chance for me to learn something new, and my program has taught my peers and I the importance of seizing that chance to become better skilled members of the workforce.
Do you want to know what else has helped to shape this skill? My school’s SkillsUSA club!
Through the use of hands-on activities and talented speakers, my fellow members and I are always learning something valuable at our meetings and events such as proper etiquette and effective communication methods. It’s no wonder that this skill developed over time.
Today I have shared with you three skills I gained during my career as a technical college student.
Dependability, teamwork, and a willingness to learn are vital skills that will help me succeed in the workforce and all areas of my everyday life.
If I could tell my friends, high school students, and parents anything, I would tell them this: while four-year colleges are great options for obtaining an education, don’t overlook two-year colleges because they’re not as popular or well-known as the former. Based on first-hand experience, I can tell you that two-year colleges, specifically technical colleges, have exceptional programs that prepare students to be champions at work.
Contest judges, I challenge you to discard any negative opinions you may have about community and technical colleges and to be a part of the higher education movement that supports students attending various types of schools despite the stigma surrounding some.
As long as students are safe and getting their money’s worth, it doesn’t matter if they choose to enroll in the community college down the street instead of the university up the road.
And remember, although the name may not be as prestigious as Harvard or Yale, I guarantee that being Career-Ready Starts Here.