By Dani Palmer for The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. — Students got the chance to explore multiple careers, some hands-on, at the Madison County Education Coalition’s first Career Expo Tuesday evening at Mounds Mall. The focus was on eighth-, ninth- and 10th-graders; to let them explore career options early so by the time they’re getting ready for college, they have a better idea of what they want to do. The turnout was good with 300 registered and multiple walk-ins, said Mark Finger, director of the education coalition.
Professionals from multiple career fields in Madison County were there with activities to keep the students engaged. At one booth, kids got to don a surgery gown, cap and latex gloves as they performed surgery on a pumpkin with a laparoscopy machine. Jaylin Jefferson, a freshman at Highland Junior High, said it was fun, but harder than it looked. “I could see myself doing it,” he said.
Jefferson said there was a lot to explore and that he had discovered things he didn’t know existed in Madison County. He’s interested in becoming an underwater welder because he’d heard it’s a high-paying job, but said the expo presented other interesting options. “I’m happy I came,” he said. “I like it so far.” He said he’d like to attend the expo again next year.
Multiple other vendors, like funeral homes, contractors, photographers, engineers and many more, were there, too. Anderson police let kids slide in and out of a cop car as they explored, and a mock courtroom was often filled. The spectrum was broad with about 50 different vendors offering students the chance to see careers available to them here in Madison County. “I’m really pleased with the way it’s turned out tonight,” Finger said. Finger had spoken with vendors and said the expo was one of the most positive experiences offered to students in the county.
Dr. Gary Hoffman, clinic director at Hoffman Chiropractic Clinic, said it was great interacting with the kids. “It’s such a wonderful thing, making them think about this earlier,” he said. He said the parents who had stopped by were interested in the paperwork, but the kids were more about asking questions. He said the fact that kids could sign up for job shadowing afterward was a great opportunity for experience because going into college spending time and money just to “hate it is terrible.”
Many students came in not only to explore, but to check out careers they were already highly interested in. Such was the case with Kevin Clark, a freshman at Anderson Preparatory Academy, who wants to be a veterinarian. “(I came) just to see if I actually want to do this,” Clark said. His mom, Carla Capps, said he’s gone through a few different ideas careerwise, but has stuck with wanting to be a vet. She said the expo was a good opportunity for kids to see what different jobs are like.
The expo also featured a representative from the National Center for College Costs, who assisted parents in planning for college expenses. “We know we should get started, but we’re just waiting to see what happens,” Capps said about the financial aid aspect of it.
The Career Expo will be available to students again next year.