STUDENTS EXPLORE CAREERS, COLLEGES
March 16, 2012
Law enforcement, technology and health care are a few of the careers students in grades 7-12 had an opportunity to explore during Watervliet Junior-Senior High School’s first Career Fair on Friday, March 16.
Approximately 30 businesses participated in the fair, from the Watervliet Fire Department to Cisco Systems, Inc., and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to Time Warner Cable. Representatives from several area colleges including Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC), Schenectady County Community College (SCCC), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), SUNY Cobleskill and Bryant & Stratton were also on hand to answer questions about the academic programs offered at their schools and provide information about the admissions process.
Watervliet guidance counselor Katelyn McKenna helped organize the fair. “The purpose behind the event is for students to learn about the types of careers that are available and get them thinking about what they might want to do after high school,” McKenna said. “Many students haven’t really given it serious thought.”
Amelia Walker, a Watervliet High School senior is not one of them. In fact, she served as a presenter for the Capital Region BOCES at the Career Fair, talking with her peers about information technology, her chosen career path. Last year, Amelia enrolled in the Computer & Network Technician/Information Technology program at the Capital Region BOCES Career & Technical School. She is currently pursuing an internship with the New York State Office of Technology through the CTE program and is earning college credits that will help her graduate from HVCC at least a semester early.
High school senior Tom Szczepanski also has a career path in mind and has taken steps toward fulfilling his dream. Tom wants to follow in his fireman cousin’s footsteps—and recently took a firefighter exam.
McKenna says students were most drawn to the businesses and organizations that offered hands-on activities. The Watervliet Fire Department’s table was often surrounded, as students practiced putting out a simulated fire with fire extinguishers, tried on cumbersome firefighting equipment or practiced life-saving CPR skills on resuscitation dummies.
Across the gym, students with the strongest stomachs received a hands-on lesson in what it’s like to be a health care professional working in respiratory care. Students donned surgical gloves before touching and comparing a healthy pig lung with a “diseased” pig lung. This exercise was designed to show students the differences between a normal lung and that of a smoker. It was presented by an instructor from HVCC’s School of Health Sciences who teaches a new course on polysomnography (the study of sleep abnormalities). The instructor graduated from HVCC at 20 with an associate’s degree in respiratory care, then switched to polysomnography and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees online while working in the field—without having to take any student loans.
McKenna was pleased with participation of area businesses and colleges, and plans to expand the Career Fair next year. "The feedback from students and vendors on our first Career Fair has been really positive," she said.