Building Bridges to Careers plans event

MARIETTA — Students and their families looking for guidance and information on careers will be able to get some help Thursday when Building Bridges to Careers (BB2C) stages its annual Family Career Awareness Day.

The Family Career Awareness Day will be held from 4-7 p.m. Thursday in the Junior Fair Building at the Washington County Fairgrounds. The event is free, and no registration is required for those who attend. For more information, see buildingbridgestocareers.org.

More than 50 businesses will have booths at the Junior Fair Building at the Washington County Fairgrounds, providing information about the careers they offer, said agency and event coordinator Tonya Davis.

“Parents and students can come and talk to local companies and find out about what careers are available,” she said. “Students are often not aware of local possibilities for careers.”

Davis said the event is targeted at young people in grades seven through 12, but it’s open to anyone who wants to attend.

Parents are encouraged to accompany their students, Davis said, because research has shown that family is a significant influence on what careers children choose to follow. Surveys, she said, show that personal experience is the primary influence, followed by parents.

Davis said the event will be valuable for students who haven’t yet made any career decisions as well as those who think they know what profession they’d like to pursue.

“Some students have a clear idea about it, but a lot don’t,” she said. “Those who do can get specific information, and those who don’t can explore what’s there.”

It’s the fourth year BB2C has organized the career fair, and last year more than 200 people attended, Davis said. Exploring the possibilities can expand students’ concept of what they can do, she said.

“Family tradition plays a strong role, and we want them to look at those but also to look at other possibilities to help them make informed decisions,” she said. “We try to provide them with personal experiences so they can see what a career is like before they get into it.”

At the career day, students can learn about the potential with local companies for job shadowing and internships, she said. Organizations that students can query at the fair include Kraton Polymers, Solvay Chemicals, engineering firms, landscaping companies, union representatives for plumbing, pipefitting and electrical trades, dental clinics, the Memorial Health System and graphic design and printing operations, as well as many others.

Gretchen Lankford, 14, a student at Marietta High School, attended the career day last year and she’ll be going back this year.

“There were lots of businesses, it was really diverse, a little bit for everyone,” she said.

She had gone into the fair with the idea of becoming a psychiatrist. “I want to be able to help people, and I like to talk,” she said. After talking to professionals at the career day and doing some further research, she decided that becoming a psychologist would suit her better.

Marietta High School offers a psychology course, and now she plans to take it as a junior.

Attending the fair also broadened her career thinking, she said.

“It was great to meet the business owners. I saw some things that made me think, ‘Now that’s interesting,'” she said. “They had a scavenger hunt, and that helped you get talking to people.”

Building Bridges to Careers was established in 2012 by education, community and business leaders to create career awareness and readiness among young people in Marietta.

“We’re working to bridge the gap between education and employment for students, and we’re also helping build a local workforce for business,” Davis said.

There’s more in it for students than just information, she said.

“We stress to students the value of networking, the importance of developing and building relationships in the field they’re interested in, establishing references and guidance,” she said. “This event can really impact their future.”

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