Between 800 and 900 eighth graders from surrounding county schools gathered in the Exhibition Hall on the Sumiton campus of Bevill State Community College Friday for a career fair. Carrying clipboards, papers and pens, students were armed with the tools to start asking questions such as: “How many years of training or school did you have to complete?” and “What is the starting salary for a job in your field?”
However, the experts were ready to present with their knowledge of the skills it takes to perform their jobs on a daily basis. Local photographer Stephanie Ledbetter, of Stephanie Ledbetter Photography, enjoyed her first time as a presenter at the career fair.
“I think it was great for all of the eighth-grade students to come out today,” Ledbetter said. “It was great to see their excitement about the different careers and choosing the paths for their futures. I think that we met some great, knowledgeable students who will go really far with their education.”
From pharmacy to police and diesel to hair styling, the students’ interests were piqued at all times. Some were intrigued to ask questions about being a veterinarian while others had their attention zoned in on the Sumiton’s Narcotics Detection Canine Unit.
Eighth-grade students from all of the county’s middle and junior high schools participated in the day’s event.
“It’s important to come to a career fair because we need to start planning now because high school can affect what we can do in college,” said Carbon Hill eighth grader William Perryman, who is interested in the fields of engineering, welding and graphic arts. “If we can’t choose the right career while in high school or college, then it makes it that much harder.”
According to career fair organizers, the day’s program ran smoothly. This is the second year Walker County Schools have held a career fair on the Bevill campus. Organizer, and Bankhead Middle School counselor, Christie Waldon said this year 15 more professions were added to the mix. “It was a huge success,” Waldon said with a big smile. “We wanted to offer all of the eighth graders in Walker County opportunities to have many career choices to help plan for their future and help them with their transition to high school before we start working on four-year plans in the spring.”
Parrish Elementary Counselor Stacey Goodwin added, “I think we had a good variety of jobs, and the kids are always well-behaved. I’m just real proud of our kids.”
Students walked through in groups, pairs and some individuals braved the task of speaking to professionals one-on-one before loading their school’s bus.
Students didn’t leave empty-handed either. If business representatives didn’t have cards, brochures or other interesting little tidbits to give away, students were offered drinks and snacks during the break period and almost every table carried a little basket of candy.
Mary Slaughter, who is the assessment and accountability coordinator and oversees the guidance counseling for the county school system, is the supervisor over the county’s school counselors and was in charge of the career fair.
Lupton Jr. High Counselor Amanda Shubert was thrilled about the career fair and hopes next year goes just as smoothly.
“I think it went well. I think the kids enjoyed it, and they interacted very well,” Shubert said. “Our presenters were really prepared.”
Shubert, along with Misty Whisenhunt — counselor at Curry Middle School — and the other counselors thanked the presenters and Bevill State for helping with the event and allowing them to use the facilities.