How many times do people ask kids what they want to be when they grow up? The answer is – a lot! It’s a good question, and one that can be a bit hard to answer for teens who may not be familiar with all of the job and career options available to them. The choices can indeed be overwhelming.
So where do they start?
Luckily for some Southern Kentucky middle school and high school students, the question of what they want to be when they grow up just got a little easier, and A LOT more fun to try to answer.
Recently, I was privileged to attend the South Central Kentucky (SCK) Launch Experience, a career fair for middle school and high school students in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
The event was a fantastic success, with about 1600 8th and 9th graders from Warren County, Kentucky traversing the booths and exhibits.
Seven high-growth employment sectors were represented at the SCK Launch career fair:
- Healthcare – represented by local medical clinics, offices, EMS professionals, and a hospital
- Construction – represented by local electrical contractors, heavy equipment rentals, and construction contracting firms
- Hospitality – represented by restaurants, hotels, and a culinary arts school
- Manufacturing – represented by local factories
- Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics – represented by a local trucking and distribution company
- Professional Services – represented by bankers, lawyers, accountants, and various consultants
- Public Services – represented by police, sheriff, fire fighters, FBI, and the local water district
Educational institutions were also represented, with a total of about 55 businesses and public entities participating in the event. It was hosted by the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce, and took place at the new and amazing National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park.
Seeing the kids explore the fun things to do at the booths was gratifying, inspiring, and even entertaining. They were interested and engaged. I laughed as I watched the kids perform an “operation” on a simulator, and perform CPR on the medical training mannequins in the Healthcare sector of the fair. They learned how to take their blood pressure, and even how to use a machine to help lift someone out of a chair or bed.
It was equally entertaining to observe the students taking selfies with a giant roll of duct tape at the Berry Plastics booth in the Manufacturing sector. And the photo ops with the Snuggle bear at the Sun Detergents booth were irresistible.
Of course, what teenager could pass up the opportunity to take a selfie in the back seat of a police cruiser, or to try on handcuffs at the sheriff’s display? And several students wrapped up the inside portion of the Public Services tour by trying a bullet-proof vest on for size.
Outside, the students were treated to a walk through the smoke trailer, and a quick tour of a fire engine.
Don’t forget the freebies!
No student career fair would be complete without a collection of free stuff, including a Corvette poster from the GM booth, a mock stethoscope, a cute cuddly bear (complete with detergent samples), and a mini roll of duct tape to take home as souvenirs of a day well spent. My personal favorites were the bear and the mini roll of duct tape.
Sometimes it’s the little things that make us happy.
The 2016 ONTrack Grudge Match
One of the most impressive displays I saw was a true testament to how amazing, smart, and talented teenagers can be.
The 2016 ONTrack Grudge Match took place during the previous school year and ended this past September, with two groups of kids competing with each other in a car restoration contest. Students from the South-central Kentucky Community & Technical College (SKYCTC) and from the Warren County Area Technology Center (high school automotive and welding students) were given two older, run-down, rusted Camaros to restore.
Both groups did an outstanding job with their vehicles. But the high school kids prevailed. Their black and orange restored Camaro won the top spot, beating out the college kids’ green replica of the famous 1970 Camaro Grinch. What an awesome learning opportunity for both groups of kids!
To say the SCK Launch Experience was a success would be an understatement. The 8th and 9th graders who attended the Launch were treated to a fun-filled, educational day. Honestly, who wouldn’t want to miss school for this?
But most of all, they learned about the intriguing and promising job opportunities that await them upon graduation. Hopefully the students left the SCK Launch Experience with a better understanding and feel for what their options are in the areas of education and career choice.
What’s coming up in the future?
The next year looks to be even bigger and better, with the SCK Launch Experience branching out to 8th grade students in the surrounding counties.
I would encourage you and your teens to investigate similar career fairs in your area. Expose your teens to as many opportunities as possible for them to learn and make decisions about their futures. It’s a fun, exciting time in their lives.
Show them how to succeed!