Eighth graders get glimpse into ‘real world’

Published 7:07 am Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Area eighth grade students took a look into their futures on Tuesday.

About 460 students from eight area schools attended the Freeborn Mower Counties Exploratory Career Fair yesterday at Riverside Arena.

“The point is to get students interested in what they might want to be doing in a few years,” said Neil Hanson, coordinator of the career fair. “Most are going to change their minds, of course. We just want them to be thinking about it.”

Since 1994, area students in the counties’ public and private schools have participated in the fair that provides students not only career awareness but also exploration and planning opportunities.

Students pre-selected four career areas and attended sessions on them at the fair, where they took part in presentations and question and answer sessions with employers and professionals.

Teachers are encouraged to take the event further by assigning students a paper to explore comparisons of the four career areas. Then, Hanson said, students can select their favorite and arrange follow-up informational interviews with professionals in the field.

“We want to help students find out what they are interested in so they can prepare for that by taking the right electives in high school,” Hanson said.

Students were able to visit with representatives from 26 career fields. More and more alternative energy and technology-based fields are present at the fair each year, Hanson said.

“Many students are not going to go to a four-year or a technical school — some may go into business with their folks, for example, and then they’ll need to take some accounting and bookkeeping courses.” Hanson said. “We hope the fair helps them begin to figure these things out and prepare for the future.”

Participating schools were Ellis Middle School, Glenville-Emmons, Grand Meadow, LeRoy-Ostrander, Lyle, Southland, Pacelli and Sacred Heart.

Career fair sponsors include Wal-Mart, Austin Chamber of Commerce, Kwik Trip, Games People Play, Freeborn Mower Cooperative Services, State Farm Insurance, Holiday Cars, Hy-Vee Foods, Austin Public Schools and Austin Parks & Recreation Department.