Career fair shows local students options for future

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, April 15, 2015

NW0415 Career Fair C

Around 500 high school seniors from each of Carter County’s five high schools had the chance to see what opportunities await them after graduation during the first-ever college and career fair hosted by the Workforce and Education Committee of Carter County Tomorrow.

The high school students visited the Elizabethton Tennessee College of Applied Technology where they networked with almost 30 representatives from local post-secondary education providers and employers.

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The fair was held in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Jobs4TN program and was the first of a two-part fair. A job fair for unemployed and underemployed was held later in the afternoon.

“This is about career exploration,” CCT President Tom Anderson said. “This is to show the students what life after high school can hold. We have representatives from colleges and technical schools along with different employers from the region. It shows them what job opportunities are available and gives then chance to talk to employers to see what skill sets are needed for the job they might be interested in. It also shows them they do not have to leave the region to get a good job.”

For the post-secondary education group, representatives from King University, Northeast State Community College, East Tennessee State University, Milligan College, Tusculum College, Job Corps and the TCAT were available. Numerous employers were on hand include Parkdale Mills, Regions Bank, Pine Ridge Care and Rehabilitation Center, Walgreens, Edward Jones Investments, International Paper, Food City, Sprint, Snap-On Tools, the Carter County School System and many others.

Students worked their way around the room, talking with different employers and gathering information on jobs or education programs. Each student was given a scavenger hunt with a list of questions to be answered from different booths. Students who completed the survey correctly were entered into a chance for a door prize.

“It really opens the door to conversation with the employers,” Anderson said. “They ask the questions on the scavenger hunt, but it leads to other questions and learning more about the business.”

Kerrianne Hicks and Andrew Gunn from Happy Valley High School attended the fair with an idea their futures might be found in the health care field. After talking with different representatives, both felt confident they had made the right decision for the future careers.

“I found out a lot about health care,” Hicks said. “My family has always worked as nurses, or in medical care. The job opportunities are here if you want to do them.”

Gunn learned of a free class available through ETSU on nursing he could take from one of the booths at the fair.

“The fair has been really helpful,” he said. “I have always been interested in nursing, and I found out I can take this class for free. It will help me out a lot.”

Not everyone at the fair had made a decision about what their future careers would be. Hampton High School senior Michael White was taking advantage of the event to gain more information on his future choices.

“I came here hoping to learn more about film making and psychology,” White said. “I have been keeping an open mind and just learning what I can. Everyone has been really friendly and helpful. I was complimented on my professionalism, which is always nice to hear.”

This is the first year the fair has been held in Carter County, and plans are in place to bring it back next year but to make it even larger.

“This has never been done before in Carter County,” C-Ann Chapman, Regional Public Relations for the East Tennessee TN Department of Labor & Workforce Development said. “This is a great way of showing the students what is out there. Some of them may know what they want to do after college, but others may have no idea. This is bringing the education and the chance to ask questions to them.”