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Career Challenge Day 2024 in Burlington

by Jillian Scannell

BTC student shows a middle school girl how to check the oil in a car at Career Challenge Day


Vermont Works for Women hosted our third and final Career Challenge Day of 2024 at Burlington Technical Center (BTC).

Career Challenge Day is a free, day-long career exploration event that provides girls and gender-expansive youth in grades 6-9 with the opportunity to try hands-on activities at BTC in a supportive environment.  

Career Challenge Day 2024  

We welcomed91girls and gender-expansive students from nine different schools for a day of hands-on exploration and connection at BTC. Visiting students had the chance to learn about BTC’s programs by meeting instructors and current students, getting their hands on special tools, and experiencing a taste of common projects in each of the different fields:  

  • Automotive Technology – BTC students showed visiting students how to check tire pressure and tread depth, determine what kind of oil a car takes, how to check oil levels, and how to use a car jack to change a tire.
  • Aviation & Aerospace – students used a wooden airplane model to learn how electrical circuits function and how to restore wires when the circuit is broken
  • Criminal Justice & Homeland Security – students explored everything the fields of criminal justice and homeland security have to offer! They got an introduction to fingerprinting, crime scene investigation, FEMA certification and emergency first aid, and even explored solitary confinement and interrogation rooms.
  • Digital Media Lab Culinary Arts & Hospitality Management – students learned about various camera shots, wrote storyboards and then recorded a short sequence film. Between acting, lighting, directing, sound, and camera work, they jumped right into every aspect of making an original short film!
  • Design, Engineering and Fabrication – visiting students competed to design a marble run course out of paper and plywood. The team whose marble took the longest time to complete their course won!
  • Design & Illustration – BTC students taught visiting students how to screen print, work with Adobe Photoshop, and use Wacom tablets to create original designs.
  • Educational Training & Leadership – students had a lot of fun learning to effectively plan activity lessons by writing (and then testing) instructions on “how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.” Needless to say, if the instructions aren’t specific, the end result may look very different than what was originally intended!
  • Health Sciences Academy & Intro to Health Care – students expertly identified a long list of unsanitary and hazardous conditions as part of a mock hospital room scene. Along the way, students learned about correct practices for maintaining the health and safety of patients in a health care setting!
  • Pre-Tech Innovation, Technology & Design – Visiting students designed bridges out of a single sheet of paper across a designated gap, then competed see which bridge could hold the most weight.
Students examine footprints and fingerprints at Career Challenge Day Middle School students at Career Challenge Day practice packing a wound






Why is Career Challenge Day Important?  

Research and our experience prove that early exposure to STEM and trades career fields inspires more girls and gender-expansive students to enroll in their tech center and/or pursue fields where their gender is often underrepresented. It is clear from the student feedback that participants felt safe, inspired, and like they explored something they might have not thought about before Career Challenge Day. 

Students direct their own short film in the Digital Media Lab at BTC students used a wooden airplane model to learn how electrical circuits function






Student Feedback 

Students complete a survey at the end of the day, giving VWW and BTC valuable information about their experience – what they enjoyed, if they can envision themselves as BTC students, and whether they did something they hadn’t realized they were capable of before attending Career Challenge Day.

  • 92%      “I enjoyed visiting my tech center
  • 52%      “I can see myself being a student here at BTC”
  • 57%      “I did something today that I didn’t know I was capable of before attending Career Challenge Day”
  • 86%      “I would like to visit BTC again”


To learn more about Career Challenge Day at BTC or be notified of the event next year, please contact Caelan Keenan at