PERRY -- Patrick Ivey stood in a brown suit jacket and orange collared shirt as student milled around him, wandering the Middle Georgia Career Exploration Scavenger Hunt on Thursday.
The brightly colored shirt signified that he was a “mystery person,” prompting students to occasionally stop and ask him yes or no questions in an attempt to guess his profession.
Do you work on (Robins Air Force) Base? No. Are you a teacher? No. A professor? No. Are you in education? Yes. Are you a dean? No. Do you work at a college? Yes.
Eventually, they would guess that Ivey, the director of career services for Middle Georgia Technical College, is a counselor, but Ivey also took the time to make it a teachable moment.
“Don’t stress out and think ‘I have to make a decision today that’s going to last the rest of my life,’” he told students as they prepared to peruse booths with representatives from various professions. “It’s going to evolve over time. I’m not doing anything close to what I thought I would be doing when I was your age. You go for the things that you love and the things that you’re good at, and that will propel you the rest of the way.”
The annual event, held in the McGill Marketplace at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter, allowed hundreds of students -- mostly 10th-graders -- from Houston, Peach and Dooly counties to gain insight about job opportunities and the requirements of different occupations as they plan for their futures.
“Tenth grade is typically a time when they’ve done some exploration, and they’re getting a little closer to making decisions about college and taking classes that may prepare them for a particular career,” said Barbara Wall, director of career, technical and agricultural education for Houston County schools.
Exhibitors included Northrop Grumman Corp., Frito-Lay and the GBI. Students asked questions ranging from “How much money do you make?” and “What type of training do you need?” to “What’s a typical day like?” and “What advancement opportunities are available in your field?”
O’Na Reed, a 10th-grader at Veterans High School, said she aspires to be a nurse or obstetrician/gynecologist. She took the time to speak with paramedics and fire department representatives but spent much of the day talking to college representatives.
Tracy Marshall, coordinator for Fort Valley State University’s Office of Diversity and International Affairs, said the opportunity to reach the students at a career fair was key.
“It’s very important for us to expose our students to the idea of going to college,” she said, stressing that they were also making students aware of dual-enrollment opportunities, which allow them to earn college credit while still in high school. “This gives the opportunity to connect the dots between college and a career.”
To contact writer Caryn Grant, call 256-9751.