Career Fair helps Rockwood middle school students prepare for the future
By: Diane E. Samson
When Amy Marrott left for school on Feb. 28, she wasn’t dressed as a typical eighth-grader. Wearing professional interview attire, she spent much of the day talking with four professionals including a secret service agent, lawyer, medical therapist and interior designer, who helped her understand what it takes to be successful in their careers.
“I thought it was very inspirational the way they had us ask questions and then they told us about their jobs,” said Marrott, an eighth-grader from Crestview Middle School. “I got my questions answered and was more clear with what that job was about and what would be expected of me as an employee.”
More than 1,800 Rockwood eighth-graders spent half their school day attending a career fair held at Kemp Auto Museum in Chesterfield on Feb. 27, 28 or March 1. The students got a real-world view of four careers of interest to them by interacting with professionals in small group settings.
Before the career fair, eighth-grade counselors from all Rockwood middle schools worked with students to identify careers of interest from more than 40 different options.
Crestview eighth-grader Marquis Yarborough met with a doctor, lawyer, mechanical engineer and firefighter. He walked away encouraged to pursue a career he had thought about early in life: being a firefighter.
“The fireman told me a lot of things about his job and really made me want to pursue that,” Yarborough said. “I really like to help people and I’ve always been told I have a kind heart.”
The students listen to professionals discuss a day in the life of their profession, how they got where they are and their educational backgrounds. The professionals also recommend what courses the students should take in high school to prepare for that career.
“For instance, if they want to be an architect, they should be taking engineering, drafting, math and visual arts,” said Kim Litzau, Rockwood supervisor for Partners in Education. “We’ve had students come back from the fair and change their enrollment for high school.”
Facilitating preparation is one of the chief goals of the program, according to Lance Wheeler, Crestview Middle School eighth-grade assistant principal.
“We try to help kids have a clear vision of what they want to do, set goals for that and be able to be successful in achieving those goals,” Wheeler said. “It’s a lot harder to set low expectations first and try to catch up than to set high expectations upfront.”
He said the career fair also ties into Crestview’s “Seven Habits for Highly Effective Students,” which emphasizes positive student development. One of the habits encouraged is being proactive about the future.
During the career fair, students also prepared for their first interview, as many may want to get their first job while in high school.
“We wanted to teach the kids the life skill of interviewing,” Wheeler said, which is one reason the students were required to dress professionally.
Kemp Auto Museum has hosted the event for the past four years. The museum provides the facility at no charge, foregoing any admission or rental income for the three days of the event.
“It’s part of our educational initiative to bring St. Louis students and professionals into an environment where they can interface without pressure or pretense,” said Lisa Roberts, Kemp Auto Museum event director. “The event encourages students to take the wheel on their future and start drawing conclusions on who they are and where they want to go occupationally.”