It's one of those age old questions: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Southwest ISD tried to help nearly 1000 eighth graders figure that out Thursday afternoon at the district's second annual Career Exploration Day. The middle schoolers got a first-hand look at companies like HEB, Toyota and Rackspace.
"It's really cool to see, like, what I can do with my future," said Carolyn Driesse, a McNair eighth grader.
She's already got some idea of the career field she wants to go into; Her mother teaches theater at Southwest High School and Carolyn's been acting since she was 3 years old.
"I guess it's just, like, being able to be someone else for a little while and going into a different world. It's pretty cool," she said.
The career day wasn't just about life after graduation, though. Carolyn and her classmates got to see what life in high school would be like. She spent much of her time speaking with Southwest seniors about the school's arts program.
Senior Vincente Flores, on the other hand, spent his day talking about STEM opportunities.
"The last year of middle school I noticed, ok, I want to do something, I want to become an engineer," he said.
That's the same age as the middle schoolers he spoke to this afternoon, so Flores made sure he did what he could to help them out.
"I let them know what their opportunities are," he said. "This is one of the things they can do in high school."
This whole experience is one way Southwest ISD is introducing middle schoolers to one of five endorsements they need to earn to graduate high school. Those endorsements range from STEM to multidisciplinary studies, and the requirement was implemented two years ago after the Texas Legislature passed HB-5 in 2013.
"The whole idea to enhance a student's experience in high school is to educate them through a lens where they have some excitement passion and interest in," SWISD superintendent Lloyd Versuyft said.
He added that this career day is an opportunity to get students off campus and let them see the different careers that await them.
"A lot of our students don't understand the vast array of opportunities that exist," he said. "It may be the first time that our students spoke to someone from that specific industry... that will help them as they matriculate from eighth grade to ninth grade."
For Carolyn, it ended up sparking an interest in something she's never done before.
"I think I might try dance," she said. "I'm not that coordinated, but I want to try something new."