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Career Connections: Juniors, seniors wade those future waters

There were 60-70 exhibitors, teachers and about 20 volunteers at the College and Career Fair on Thursday.

Staff photo by L.A. Story

By L.A. Story

Daily Corinthian

About 800 junior and senior high school students from Corinth and Alcorn County schools got a chance to wade into the waters of their future careers.

The Interactive College and Career Fair was held Thursday at the Crossroads Arena and hosted by the Alcorn County Fair in partnership with the Commission on the Future of Alcorn County.

Along with the students, there were 60 to 70 exhibitors, teachers and about 20 volunteers, according to Amy Craven, Executive Director, Commission on the Future of Alcorn County.

Businesses, colleges and industry representatives set up vendor space taking up the arena concourse and floor and students were able to walk around and do more than simply be handed brochures. This fair was intended to be an interactive experience and many of the booths had hands-on activities for students to try.

In the line of medical career exhibitors, there was the opportunity to see visual information on a live birth, the sensations of trying one's hand at surgery or CPR.

Other companies provided experiences, such as Hamilton-Ryker's virtual reality forklift training.

"Hamilton-Ryker offers this for our internal associates that go to work for us, as well as we offer it to other employers to help their employees to get forklift certification or to get experience with a forklift before they get on an actual piece of machinery that could damage property or hurt somebody," said Brittany Burcham, Regional Director, Hamilton-Ryker.

After a little practice, Kossuth High School junior Chandler Moody actually passed a simulated forklift driving test. He said he enjoyed trying the experience.

"I play video games, but I don't play virtual reality," said Moody. "That was pretty cool."

There were remote controlled robotics, a crime lab, physical fitness activities and games to try. The students were able to ask questions, get small gifts or candy as well as brochures.

Craven said the reaction from everyone had been positive.

"It's all juniors and seniors. These are all the people who are making those life decisions right now, as far as what are they doing after high school. This is helping them to decide what jobs are out there," said Craven. "They (the students) are having a blast. We've had quite a few students, teachers, exhibitors tell us how great this is. The kids are learning about jobs they didn't even know were out there or they're making contact with schools."

The career fair is intended to be beneficial for students in the fact that they will be able to learn what types of jobs are available with any given business or industry and they will be given information on what skill set they need for positions at any level and what their potential salaries would be.

This information would be for students who do not necessarily want to go to college, but still want a job they enjoy and also for students who need to know what technical skills they may need, or what specific college degree is needed, to obtain the job and salary they desire.

The college representatives present said the students were extremely receptive in the environment of the fair.

Cappe Hallberg, Undergraduate Coordinator, Mississippi State University, said, "They've been very interested. I have found that a lot of them do know what they want to do. Most of them have been pretty prepared and they've asked good questions."

Hallberg's colleague, Carlee Calico Morrison, Ph.D., Visiting Assistant Professor, Agricultural Education, Leadership and Communications, School of Human Sciences, MSU, agreed.

"It's been great, we've had a lot of students here that are interested in Mississippi State and also our programs, as well. They've been really friendly and willing to talk," said Morrison.

John Baker, Assistant Director of Admissions, Blue Mountain College, said, "They have actually been more enthusiastic than usual. I think last year was kind of a cramped environment and it was hot ... but this year they've taken a lot more time to stop and ask questions."

Danny Turner, who is both a member of the workforce development subcommittee for the Commission on the Future of Alcorn County and the Alcorn County Fair Board of Directors, said the idea to make the career fair part of the Alcorn County Fair activities was one he said was "a good fit" because of the purpose of both fairs are being served.

"It was just a great fit with the Alcorn County Fair," said Turner. "One of the focuses of the fair is to give back to the community and that's what this (career) fair does."