Seniors Gracyn Haynes and Stephanie Bilsky help students discover their future

(left to right) Seniors Stephanie Bilsky and Gracyn Haynes sport the DECA symbol, a triangle, at their first career fair, hosted on Dec. 6, 2023. The career fair had 12 business for students to explore and ask questions about. What we wanted to do is just take what weve learned [in DECA] and expand it to those students who arent enrolled in this class and dont have access and then just kind of take it to the community and allow students to discover their future as well, Haynes said.
(left to right) Seniors Stephanie Bilsky and Gracyn Haynes sport the DECA symbol, a triangle, at their first career fair, hosted on Dec. 6, 2023. The career fair had 12 business for students to explore and ask questions about. “What we wanted to do is just take what we’ve learned [in DECA] and expand it to those students who aren’t enrolled in this class and don’t have access and then just kind of take it to the community and allow students to discover their future as well,” Haynes said.
Photo by Caitlyn Acosta

A resume can take you from job to job. Edited and polished after each experience, a resume is the gateway to a first, second or 15th job. However, learning where and how to start your resume cannot be taught entirely through Google. While searching for a first job as a teenager, some may be lost in the process of how to craft a resume.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School seniors Gracyn Haynes and Stephanie Bilsky learned how to create resumes through DECA classes, yet they realized that students who are not in DECA classes miss out on the learning opportunity. In light of this, they launched Discover Your Future, an organization to facilitate students in determining their future career plans and goals.

“Building a resume and knowing how to network is important regardless of the career field you’re in,” Bilsky said. “So, what we wanted to do is just take what we’ve learned and expand it to those students who aren’t enrolled in this class and don’t have access and then just kind of take it to the community and allow students to discover their future as well.”

Aside from resume building and career advice, the organization assists students with using the app LinkedIn, developing their interviewing skills and furthering their networking capabilities. Haynes and Bilsky want to help prepare students for their futures by covering all aspects of the job application process, from deciding what career field to go into to sitting down for a first interview.

“The main purpose of our event was to help students discover what they want to do in their future and explore careers,” Bilsky said. “But by doing that, part of the steps to get to that place was to give them the skills and assets they need to pursue the career they want to pursue.”

The idea for the organization came about in May 2023, when DECA students were invited to make chapter Project Management proposals. A chapter project involves students managing an organization that connects members of DECA and their community. Haynes and Bilsky pitched their idea to DECA Advisor Sharon Cutler, who wanted to build off of their idea and make it something bigger.

“The idea is to have committees and learn how to create synergy and get more people involved,” Cutler said. “A lot of it is the planning part, and then execution, and then what did you learn. Things don’t go as planned, so how to react to setbacks, and I think that’s just as important of a lesson as how to plan it.”

Haynes and Bilsky collaborated with Cutler and Office Evolution Coral Springs owner Mark Mindell to discuss the logistics of the chapter project. The girls knew that they wanted to host a career fair for students, so Mindell provided them with contacts and businesses to present at the fair.

Discover Your Future hosted a career fair on Dec. 6, 2023, that hosted 12 local businesses. Utilizing social media, Nextdoor and LinkedIn, Haynes and Bilsky were able to receive participants from media companies, healthcare professionals and chefs. With a wide range of businesses, students were able to explore career options and learn more about what their future holds.

“We had so many different people talking that I think people going around and seeing the careers and just hearing people who are genuinely passionate about what they do made the kids excited,” Haynes said. “I know my brother was helping us [set up] and he would go around to some of the less popular career fields that he wasn’t personally particularly interested in but he said he learned so much from the people.”

The pair has not only received support for the organization from family but also from the MSD DECA chapter. DECA students joined the committee board with excitement, wanting to share the project with students outside of the program. Student volunteers and even Cypress Bay High School’s DECA president came to the career fair to support Haynes and Bilsky.

“I think we’ve been given a lot of support looking at the Parkland in Coral Springs Chamber of Commerce,” Bilsky said. “They’ve also given us a lot of support because a lot of our professionals came from connections we’ve had through that. I think the community overall has been super supportive and they’ve been wanting to see more events.”

Along with the career fair, Discover Your Future has hosted resume workshops and a social media for business workshop. While the organization has been teaching students how to prepare themselves for the future, Bilsky and Haynes have also been learning new skills throughout the process as well.

“I think it taught us things like time management and also how to effectively market something that people are actually going to care about, like what you’re saying,” Bilsky said.

Bilsky and Haynes plan to take Discover Your Future to the state-wide DECA competition in Orland on Feb. 29. Their 20-page paper qualified in the Project Management Career Development category. In the meantime, the duo is working on another career fair and more career-oriented events to educate students on how they can discover their future.

Leave a Comment
About the Contributors
Jessie Gesund, Associate Editor-In-Chief
Jessie Gesund is a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. She is the Associate Editor-In-Chief for the Arts & Leisure, Opinion, and Feature sections. She is also the VP of Quill & Scroll, Key Club Class Representative, and a member of DECA. She enjoys reading and listening to music in her free time.
Ryan Shimony, Sports Editor
Ryan Shimony is a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He is sports editor for the Eagle Eye. Outside of writing, he enjoys playing golf and hanging out with friends.
Donate to Eagle Eye News
$655
$1200
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Navigate Left
Navigate Right
Donate to Eagle Eye News
$655
$1200
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All Eagle Eye News Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *