Setting a “career compass,” high schoolers attend career expo

More than 800 high-school students attended a busy career expo in November at the McKimmon Center at N.C. State University to learn about local internships and career opportunities.

WCPSS organized the event to expose students to a professional setting where they would learn how to interact with business people, make professional contacts, and think about their educational and career paths.

“We like to give students the opportunity to go outside the four walls of their classrooms and visit with an organization or a business where they’d like to become more involved,” said Susan Tyson, Career Development Coordinator for Wake Forest-Rolesville High School and co-chair of the 2012 Great Xplorations Career Fair. “They are trying to get their compass for life—to set that direction.”

More than 50 business partners attended the fair, including community colleges and universities, law firms, retailers, banks and state offices such as the N.C. Department of Transportation and State Bureau of Investigation.

Freshman Alicia Monforti spent time talking with representatives from several branches of the military, and learned more about the fields of engineering, emergency rescue and psychology.

“I’m making connections with a lot of people,” she said. She held a brochure for the Raleigh Youth Council, where she’d like to become involved, she said.

The expo was geared toward students enrolled in Career and Technical Education at their schools. WCPSS staff worked to create an atmosphere similar to a job fair. Many students wore crisp shirts, skirts and jackets and made a point to shake hands with the educators and professionals they met.

Most of business representatives who visited the fair had similar advice to the students, urging them to strive for strong grades, continue to improve their literacy, and stay engaged in science and math.

“Be willing to learn and be willing to listen,” Ryan White, an engineer with the N.C. DOT told a group of freshman from Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School. “You’ve got to be hungry. And if you want it, nothing can stop you.”

WCPSS has been organizing the expo annually for several years, Tyson said. Over that time, demand for graduates in biotechnology and the computer industry has increased.

One thing that is consistent, she said, is that employers are looking for graduates who are strong communicators and those who can work in teams—“soft skills” that will be useful to students regardless of the career path they choose.

Students and their families who are interested in job shadowing, internships and other career opportunities may contact a guidance counselor or career development coordinator at school.

For more information about Career and Technical Education and career development, visit our CTE page >>

Tags: ,