The odd jobs

Published 10:48 pm Thursday, February 24, 2011

Non-traditional: Nansemond River High School students, from right, Cuyler Grimes, Brandon Roberts and Javon Robinson ask Phyllis Moore and Jackie Russell from H & R Block about being tax advisors at the Career and Technical Education Non-Traditional Extravaganza at the Hilton Garden Inn on Thursday. At this event students had the opportunity to meet with a variety of employers and to explore non-traditional careers.

Students learn about non-traditional career options

Suffolk high schoolers explored the age-old question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” at a Suffolk Public Schools event Thursday.

Sophomores and juniors attended the Career and Technical Education Non-Traditional Careers Extravaganza on Thursday. Eighteen local workers were there to talk about their non-traditional jobs — defined as careers in which a certain gender represents less than 25 percent of the workers.

“You don’t have to go into a certain job because of your gender,” said Gail Bess, coordinator of career and technical education and adult education for Suffolk Public Schools. “We want to expose students to non-traditional careers to help them to know they can think outside of the box and be what they want to be.”

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The event has grown since its first year, incorporating more companies and representatives from the business community, Bess said. It is important for the students to see the variety of employment opportunities available to them in the community.

“If they haven’t focused on exactly what they want to do right now, they can hear my story,” said Alicia Newby, biology instructor at Paul D. Camp Community College.

Newby explained that she has tried a number of careers, and they all brought her to where she is now and help her to be successful in her current job.

“We wanted to have an opportunity to talk to young people about construction and discuss our organization,” said Dianne Franklin, building manager and representative from the Richmond Chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction.

Students came to the event with different goals, but all hoped to better understand how to begin preparing for their future.

“I decided I would like to come and explore careers and see if any of them catch my attention,” said Kai Willis, Lakeland High School student.

Kai explored a few different options, but the table that most caught her attention was the Water Quality Compliance Superintendent from the City of Portsmouth Water Department. Willis was interested in how they clean the water.

“I wanted to see non-traditional careers, and see which colleges would be best,” said Derek Morris, Nansemond River High School student.

Derek is most interested in math and science and he likes helping people, especially children. He visited the recruitment coordinator for Riverside School of Health Careers, the crop physiologist and the senior investigator for the United States Investigations Services.

He asked the presenters questions about where they went to college and what they majored in. He felt this would be the best way to plan out what he should study and where he should go to school.

“I think it was an exceptional day,” Bess said. “There was a pretty good balance of students meeting non-traditional employers.”

“I hope they left with more than they came in with today,” she said.