High-schoolers consider job security at expo

FULTON – Roughly halfway through Itawamba Community College’s Career Expo on Thursday morning, the director of ICC’s Licensed Practical Nursing Program ran out of brochures.
But it wasn’t a big surprise to Jo Maharrey, the director. She has attended the school’s Career Expo for the past five years and has noticed a rising interest in nursing careers.
Among the primary reasons is the economy.
“The jobs are there,” Maharrey said, “and the money is there.”
Thursday’s Career Expo at the Davis Event Center attracted more than 2,000 high school seniors from 20 schools in ICC’s five-county region.
ICC’s Career Expo is structured so that students have access to both professionals from a variety of fields and academic instructors from ICC. It allows students to learn about careers they’re interested in and what courses would be needed for those degrees.
As students meandered through tables for the 35 businesses represented, many admitted that the current economy did influence their interest in different professions.
“The economy has gone down, so you want to make sure you get a good job so you can make a good living,” said Saltillo High School senior Edward Samuels.
Samuels said he wants to study either business or respiratory health, a subject that interested him because he has an uncle who smoked.
Not far from where Samuels was asking questions at the respiratory care technology display, Itawamba AHS senior Bradley Frederick spun in a chair during an experiment led by ICC’s Natural Science Department.
Frederick said he was most interested in the Army Corps of Engineers, education and physical therapy.
“The economy opens my eyes up,” Frederick said. “You need to go into something where you can get a job.
“I’m a little more discouraged about education because of the job market, but the Corps had good job security.”
That’s right – high school students were talking about job security. In fact, Ben Pitcock, who recruited for the Corps of Engineers on Thursday, said several students asked about “the stability of the job.”
“That says something,” Pitcock said.
Shannon High School students Keoisha Ivory and Tasheka Long said they wanted to pursue careers in nursing and teaching.
“I think nursing will be stable in the future,” Ivory said.
Houston High School senior Elizabeth Wiggs said she also wants to be a teacher and that she enjoyed the different activities at the expo, like logic games at the computer science table and foreign language puzzles elsewhere.
She said the expo confirmed what she wants to do, but that she’s noticed a difference in the way her friends are thinking about their careers.
“People are leaning more toward high-paying jobs and ignoring the ones that aren’t,” Wiggs said. “My friends aren’t considering physical labor jobs.”
If the promise of good pay wasn’t enough to interest students in nursing, Maharrey had another ace up her sleeve.
“It’s a female-dominated profession,” she told a group of male high school students gathered around her table. “You get to be around a lot of chicks.”

Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@djournal.com.

Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal