Monday, March 11, 2019

Career Fair Fun ~ my column from Sunday's paper

There is a window of opportunity in the lives of most children when it’s possible to inspire them to reach higher. Young children will often listen, but they get lost in the words. Older kids get to a point in their lives where they know everything. They hear you and understand what you’re saying, they just think you’re stupid. The sweet spot is around the age of 14 years old. This seemed to be a good time to plant seeds of opportunity.

I think it’s no mistake that Bevill State Community College offers a career fair each year for eighth graders.

This past Friday, I helped with the Mountain Eagle booth at the career fair on the Sumiton campus. Students from Valley, Lupton, and several other schools sent busloads of students to learn about available career opportunities here in Walker County.

The students came into the auditorium in waves. Once inside they coalesced into groups of three or four and wandered around as if they were Christmas shopping. Many were attracted to the robotics demonstrations, law enforcement booths, and the Alabama Power booth. These all can be exciting careers.

The Eagle didn’t have any bells or whistles in the booth to grab the attention of students. The sign read – News Reporter. I have to admit that when I was 14 years old, news reporter would not have appealed to me either.

I used the old fashion method often used by old folks which is – “Hey kid, come here and let me ask you something important.” The question I always ask young people is, “What do you want to do when you grow up.”

The question never fails to make them think for a moment. Some of the students today came back with quick answers. One young woman said, “I want to be a pediatric nurse.” A young man said without hesitation, “I want to be a preacher, and raise stock for rodeos.” He was wearing a belt buckle as big as a Buick bumper. It was a buckle like I’ve seen rodeo professionals wear. I expect that this young man will do what he said. You could see it in the set of his jaw.

More often than not, the young folks said, “I have no idea what I want to do with my life.” I told them that most people don’t know at that age. I’m 68 and I’m still not convinced that I know what I want to do.

Then I gave my spiel about working for a newspaper. I told the students that a better term for the field was media and graphic design. All the students I talked to knew about Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. I told them what the media does is tell stories using words and pictures. The Mountain Eagle uses a newspaper, but you can tell stories with Facebook or Instagram. I talked about the six-year-old boy that made $11 million in 2017 reviewing toys. All of a sudden, media field sounded a little more appealing.

I ended my pitch with this: Storytelling is a valuable skill no matter what career field you select. Most successful doctors, lawyers, and business owners use storytelling in their work.

If you ask Google about the most important skill in business, the first skills listed is communication.

One of my last pitches was to two young women. What I told them must have resonated because when it came time to leave, they came back to our booth and said that my talk had been their favorite. I told them I felt like they both would do remarkable things in their lives.

Driving home, I felt good because I think I planted a few seeds.


  1. Many times we don't know what our words or comments will have for the future. I hope those kiddos find a career and I applaud those that already have an idea..I know I didn't in 8th grade! Good job!

  2. I am so glad you made them interested in the actual written word one finds in a newspaper. It’s good that you make them think and I remember when I was asked what I wanted to be. I never knew what I wanted to be and that was ok butnthe kids nowadays seem to have to know from what I keep hearing. The fun in exploring seems to have gone

  3. You obviously have a knack of communication and I wouldn't be surprised if one of those young ones came to work at your place of employment some day soon.
    Hugs, Julia

  4. I have no doubt your 'tales' kept their interest. And I agree with the 14 year old window. The Career fair is a great idea. There are some advances in this age, this is one of them.
    Sherry & jack

  5. All the other fields rely on communication to operate. I'm glad you were conveying that message in such a way that the youngsters considered it.

  6. I think communication is so key … and often under-valued (at least at my last workplace). Perhaps it's simply a lack of listeners? I digress! It would have been neat to have had such a thing 'back when.' Then again, I was so fixated on becoming a journalist I wouldn't have entertained anything else. (Thanking God for unanswered prayers, lol.)

  7. At 14 I had no idea, at 24 I knew being a mother was all I wanted to do with my life


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