12/20/10 — Career fair planned for younger students

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Career fair planned for younger students

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 20, 2010 1:46 PM

A date has been set for the second annual middle school career fair, with hopes that more business and industry will be represented there, organizers said.

Sponsored by Wayne Education Network, or WEN, the event will be held on Feb. 15 and 16 at the Goldsboro YMCA.

Last year was the first time for the effort, which targeted seventh-graders.

"What we're trying to do is keep them interested in school," said Dr. Ed Wilson of WEN. "It's all geared around providing career information.

"I was very pleased by our first effort. ... We have made a few modifications, such as cutting it back from two days to a day and a half, some of the areas that we didn't have represented, we're trying to work on."

The hope is to have area businesses and industries participate to broadcast some of the career opportunities that are available.

"The main purpose is to expose these kids at such a young age to think about the possibilities and not necessarily just one business to go work for but what's required to do (different) types of jobs," said Lori Dubose, chairperson of the event. "Like in a hospital, we want them to know there's so many facets to running the hospital -- from janitorial services and linen services, to radiology and dietitians."

Ideally, vendors would also provide hands-on types of activities and illustrative ways to market their businesses, as well as including such information as the salary range. The latter is probably the most prevalent question asked by young people, Ms. Dubose said.

"We would like (businesses) to give a range, from how much they make in entry level positions up to the highest," she said.

Seventh-graders are at a prime age to be thinking about their future careers and the education required to reach that goal. A career fair can also be a valuable tool for keeping students in school, Wilson said.

"It's never too early, and I really think more than just them asking the question, 'What do you want to be when you grow up?'" Ms. Dubose said.

An estimated 1,200 students came through the fair last year, including representation from public and private schools as well as home-school students.

"We want all seventh-grade children to be included in this," Ms. Dubose said. "It's also for parents who want to come and accompany them. They just have to let the guidance counselors at the school know.

"It's a great way to start the discussion about the future."

Guidance counselors at area schools are also becoming proactive in the effort, discussing careers and occupations students might consider for the future. A number of "pre-event" resources are already being incorporated in the schools, Ms. Dubose said.

"Kids will spend time on the computer taking surveys that indicate their strengths and interests to guide them into areas where their strong points are," she said. "Getting kids prepared so when they go (to the career fair) they'll have some good questions."

Organizers said they hope to provide a wide array of options that will expose students to all the possibilities ahead of them. From fields that require college and technical to vocational training, the more information students can be given, the better.

"Hopefully a lot of them will remain in Wayne County but they need to be prepared regardless," Ms. Dubose said. "They need to have training, they need to know that they're attainable but be prepared to do the work in order to get there."

Exhibitors are being sought for the event and are asked to contact Janet Brock at the Chamber of Commerce for more information. Call 734-2241 or e-mail janetb@waynecountychamber.com.

"Last year the day of the event the word was still getting around," Ms. Dubose said. "That morning we got a call from a business that just heard about it and wanted to know if they could come. I just want to make sure businesses have an opportunity to inquire about it. I don't want to leave anybody out."