The SOVA Career Choice Youth Expo celebrated its sixth year by attracting over 4,100 middle and high school students from seven local school divisions—the largest attendance to date. Students enjoyed the opportunity to interact with more than 50 employers from a wide variety of career sectors to learn about occupational opportunities available to them in Southern Virginia.
To preview the event, an Expo in the Evening allowed the community to experience the same hands-on career exploration activities as the students. Attendees interacted with regional employers, learned about school divisions’ Career & Technical Education programs, and talked to area colleges about academic programs and financial aid.
“As in years past, the Career Expo offered our regional employers a tremendous opportunity to engage directly with students who are trying to select their future career paths and discover occupational interests. I continue to be amazed by the creativity and dedication of our employers, K-12 partners and others to support students during this critical exploration stage of their lives,” said Dr. Julie Brown, IALR’s Director of Advanced Learning.
Throughout the event, employers led middle and high school students through a range of application-based activities to showcase the possible careers available in the region. Microsoft gained a lot of attention by handing out t-shirts and hats to students. Also, Reynolds Consumer Products, said, “We think it is an incredible event for the kids and businesses. What a great opportunity to impact our youth at an early age on what opportunities they have available to them—GREAT WORK! GREAT EVENT!”
Each student received a booklet with career cluster information, necessary skills and education, and potential salaries, allowing a more informed career decision. The event remains an intentional effort to build a pipeline of talent in strategic sectors aligned with economic development interests, including advanced manufacturing, healthcare, cybersecurity/IT-related fields and others. One middle school student said, “It’s fun and it gives you experience to look at different careers, even if you have your mind set on one.”
Platinum-level sponsors of the event included the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, Averett University, Goodyear, J.T. – Minnie Maude Charitable Trust, Microsoft, New College Institute and Walbridge. Gold sponsors included Centra, Eastman, MedExpress, Piedmont Access to Health Services (PATHS) and Sovah Health.
For photos, visit: http://bit.ly/careerchoice19.