South Fayette alumnus Steve Jacks ‘02 returned to his now very different stomping grounds to help introduce RIASEC to the seventh grade class and discuss his career. Mr. Jacks is a Visual Effects Editor working with companies like Lucas Films and Disney, and his most recently completed projects include The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, and Ahsoka. He has also worked on major films such as Deepwater Horizon and I, Tonya. The students were excited to hear about how his initial experiences with video production in Mr. Taylor’s Media Arts class at South Fayette have grown into his career successes which include being part of Emmy and Oscar-award winning editing teams.
Mr. Jacks shared his personal journey from high school, through college at Point Park University, to internships and taking any job opportunity he could get as long as it was part of the movie or TV industry (he even served as an accounting clerk for a TV show just to get his foot in the door). He shared that by being kind and helpful and by maintaining connections he was able to find work in New York City and then eventually move to Los Angeles where he has resided for the past five years.
“There’s nothing I’d rather be doing than what I’m doing right now,” Mr. Jacks told the class, and went on to explain that, “All this time, I never really had a Plan B.” Though the seventh grade class is just beginning to explore career possibilities for themselves, Mr. Jacks encouraged them to really think about what they love to learn and do, and try to find ways to get involved in that field as early as possible. He shared that in high school and college he worked at a local movie theater, seeing 80 films in one year, and at Blockbuster Video store just to be part of the movie industry. Mr. Jacks also recalled that after viewing some of the videos, complete with special effects, that he made in high school, Mr. Taylor told him to “go to California and never come back” – words that have motivated him throughout his career.
After Mr. Jacks’ presentation, the seventh graders returned to their classrooms to begin their exploration of RIASEC, an acronym for six personality types that can help students gain a better understanding of their own work style preferences, strengths, and interests, and ultimately determine the career fields for which they may be best suited. Standing for Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional, students take a short assessment which helps to identify their top three most aligned letters of RIASEC, understanding that there is potential for these letters to change over time. Through this rich and diverse program, students will continue to be exposed to a variety of careers and learning experiences that represent the different characteristics of RIASEC with the intent that this personal understanding will guide them in making the most informed decisions about their future upon graduation from the district.
For Mr. Jacks, whose RIASEC letters are A - C - S, some highlights of his career trajectory have included being able to create something and show it off, figuring out solutions for complex challenges, being a mentor for others and helping them find success, and working with celebrities such as Margot Robbie, Mark Wahlberg, and Paul Rudd.
Mr. Jacks and the Class of 2002 were the last to graduate from the building that now serves as the Middle School, but at the time housed grades 7 - 12. Though he loved his small “farm school,” he is impressed with how the district has grown and the opportunities, like the RIASEC program, now available to the students.