Author Talk for Career Day at Chase Collegiate

chase picture career day

Photo by Mat Calabro

On November 1st, I went back to my old high school, Chase Collegiate for Career Day. First time back on campus in 18 years. Yes, I graduated at 9. Amazing right? 😉

Many thanks to Mat Calabro, the Director of Alumni Relations, for everything he did to make that day a success!

The Chase Collegiate Alumni Association put together a top-notch day, pulling from a variety of backgrounds. Michele is a physician’s assistant, Karen is a lawyer, Bob’s a politician, Jim’s a finance guy, Ian is tech-brilliant, and I’m author-gal.

We met at the Alumni House on the corner of campus. In a corner I never ever ventured to in my days at the school.

chase career1

Photo by Mat Calabro

The campus has changed so much over the years. Bigger buildings, better technology. Larger classes.

All good stuff.

But that meant we had to get up in front of 160 students and 20 teachers and introduce ourselves.

chase career 7

Photo by Mat Calabro

The largest group I’ve ever spoken in front of to date. Luckily, my oldest friend, Ant,  has a sister at Chase. She was in the front row and gave me a wave. Thanks Lexie!

I brought my notes, but I didn’t look at them once. Yay!

Afterwards, Mat whisked us over to the upper school building for our breakout sessions. On route, I saw Mr. Colligan, my American History teacher and gave him a quick hug.

Each of the alumni taught 3 back-to-back sessions on our career path.

My classroom had a smartboard (first time using one, but hopefully not the last).

Christian volunteered his laptop so my Powerpoint could get up and running. Thanks Christian!

My first session was packed. Mr. Schwoerke stayed to give moral support. It was so so great to have him there. He was my favorite math teacher.

The students asked insightful and smart questions and kept me on my toes for our 15 minute Q&A. It was fun to share my experiences and see how interested they were in writing and publishing.

I gave out some freebies–bookmarks, business cards, Hugh Bob and The Hustle stickers. Pens for asking questions and one swag bag per session to the student with the birthday nearest to mine–yes, authors can be that self-absorbed.

chase career8

Photo by Mat Calabro

The second session went faster and by the time I finished the third session, I was so enjoying the Q&A that I wanted to go a few more rounds.

Mat came and gathered all the alumni for lunch. I ran into Mr. Behan in the hall. He was my Chemistry, Physics, and Calculus teacher–which were some of my favorite subjects. I was a total nerd back then. Karen and I got to walk to lunch with him. So great to catch up!

I had lunch with him and Dr. Bingham, the Latin professor.

The dining hall has changed a bit–no more student servers and a giant salad bar. But the same sturdy round wooden tables and chairs remain.

After the students left, I got to hang out with Karen,  Ian, and Mat. It was nice to get to know them.

I’m always in my Kour cave writing or promoting lately so it’s rare to just sit and chat with people.

It was an amazing day and I am really grateful that I could be a part of it. Many thanks to Mat and Chase Collegiate for inviting me!

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26 Responses to Author Talk for Career Day at Chase Collegiate

  1. Sounds like fun. I just can’t get over the fact that you graduated at nine! 😉

  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    What a great idea. You’re really thinking outside the box when it comes to marketing, and I’m sure it was very interesting for the kids to learn about writing and publishing. And the adults, too!

    • Thanks Carrie. I tried to think of all the ways I could connect with possible readers. Chase is a big part of all my adult successes so it was great to be able to give back too. 🙂

  3. Gulp! Kudos to you, Kourtney! Speaking in front of 180 people is something I don’t think I could do. Thanks for sharing this story and your photos. It looks like it was a fantastic day.

    • JIll, when I graduated we were the biggest class ever at 44. Most classes were 20-25 kids. I didn’t realize they had doubled in size since then. It was nerve wracking. Luckily, I’d practiced a ton and I had my notes. I could hear a slight quiver in my voice but otherwise I did well. 😉 It’s my last event for a bit. And a very nice way to come back home after the book tour. 🙂

  4. Gemma Hawdon says:

    Wow! 180 people – I’m impressed! I’m sure your visit was filled with all kinds of nostalgia. It sounds as though your marketing is going very well. Keep up the good work x

    • Thanks Gemma! It was cool to be back there as the me I am today. Doing my best. This week I’ve been lining up more online promotional stuff for the winter. It never stops. Just switches gears. And tries to allocate more time to writing next week. 🙂

  5. Sheila says:

    It sounds like scary fun! That’s great that you were able to do it without going back to your notes. I once did a Career Day as a reporter and only had to talk in front of about 25 kids and that was scary enough!

    • I was prepared for the breakout sessions with 20-30 students, but 160 in one room. Luckily it was only 3 minutes. 🙂 Another thing off the public speaking bucket list. I drill all week so that it’s in my head. My parents are amazed at how I study for talks. 😉 Oh that must have been cool–I bet they loved hearing about your day to day.

      • Sheila says:

        A 3-minute time limit would make it even harder because it would take more time than that for me to get any thoughts at all together! I think the thing they loved the most was when I took a picture of them for the paper. Other speakers had all kinds of props – even a racecar believe it or not – but all I had was the camera and a notebook. The kids were really nice though and they didn’t even throw things at me!

        • LOL. That’s why I write out everything and practice at home. It sounds really natural but it’s scripted. 🙂 That’s very cool! I had a Powerpoint, bookmarks, handouts, and stickers. They loved the stickers. 😉 Aw, that’s good.

  6. jmmcdowell says:

    Whew, 180 is a big group! That takes me back to my graduate school teaching days with big gen-ed classes. Talking anthropology is one thing. Talking about myself would be another! 🙂

    My old high school, alas, has been replaced entirely with a new, bigger and tech-heavy version on the other side of town. It wouldn’t feel the same as going back to “my old school.”

    • LOL. It was the entire high school–all 4 grades. Luckily, we broke into smaller sessions for our workshops. I gave them an overview of publishing, querying, writing, promotion. I was surprised how much I could impart in 15 minutes. It went so fast!

      That’s too bad. But I totally get what you mean.

  7. EllaDee says:

    Ah, to be one of the kids at Chase now, with it all ahead… and a group of people who have already made it turn up: a physician’s assistant; a lawyer; a politician; a finance guy; someone who is tech-brilliant;, an author-gal. Who would I want to be? Author-Gal in her cowboy boots looks pretty cool to me 🙂

  8. Lori D says:

    Sounds great, Kourtney. I’m still not comfortable talking in front of a crowd. You’re inspiring me. I’ve been hard at work editing my WIP. OMG, this is taking forever, and it gets lonely in my Lor lair (hee, hee, just made that up). Have to get it to my beta readers by Nov. 21. I’ve got 5 chapters left to edit (of 33). Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    • I think of it like eating vegetables. I’m never going to have a natural love of veggies, but I can make them tolerable and a part of my life. 😉 Speaking in front of crowds is just a part of promoting a book. Something that has to be done so why not find a way to do it well and enjoy some aspects of it? It’s funny, I’ve been in promo mode for so long, revision sounds like fun. Whenever you’re doing something day in and day out, it gets tiring. But if we push through it, a new project awaits. I’m actually looking forward to getting to outlining more this month. 🙂

  9. Your resume just keeps expanding. This is probably something you would have never imagined as a student. I’m sure with each speech you give, your confidence improves. Nice to hear the kids were so engaged.

    • LOL. That’s my goal. 🙂 Oh no, I was very focused on getting into business school back then. It does. Also I learn what works and what doesn’t. So I fine tune my talks too. 🙂 Yeah, that was a huge bonus. I’d have hated to hear crickets for 15 minutes of the Q&A.

  10. Great that you could go back to school and inspire a whole new generation of writers – just think in a few years time they may be talking about how you inspired them to write their great novel.

    • Thanks. I tried to give them practical info and touch on the writing and the business side of being an author. I hope I gave them a slice of my reality. It would be great to hear from them and see where they go from here with their writing. 🙂

  11. Chris Edgar says:

    Glad to hear you enjoyed yourself. I can definitely relate to what you say about wanting more opportunities to just sit and chat with people — sometimes I think the reason I’ve been enrolled in two different songwriting workshops that meet regularly is simply to get more opportunities to hang out with people and do things that I enjoy, as opposed to revising my work, which can get fairly solitary.

    • Thanks. Sometimes promoting involves just listening. Or just presenting. It’s seemed a while since I’d simply hung out with people. 🙂 It’s great when conversation and interests intersect. I have a critique partner and we have a standing weekly Skype session to talk writing and the writing life. She definitely keeps me sane. 🙂

  12. 4amWriter says:

    I think going back to your high school is a wonderful way to connect your past and present. I bet the kids just absorbed everything you had to say.

    • It was so much better than I expected. I wasn’t one of the cool kids in high school, but I wasn’t that girl anymore so it was really nice to go back there as the current me. They were a great audience. Inquisitive and smart. 🙂

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