Mark Brown hadn’t given much thought to a career path until he attended the Warrington Middle School Career Awareness Fair.
Mark likes computers and technology, so he was drawn to the University of West Florida’s computer science and cybersecurity exhibit.
“I not sure what I want to be but I got to see so many different jobs today,” said Mark, 14, a Warrington Middle School eighth-grader. “This is good to show that we have a lot of good things to do in life.”
Mark was among about 400 middle school students who took part in Wednesday’s career fair in the school’s gymnasium.
Sixth- and seventh-grade students a few minutes of their morning strolling from station to station, meeting and mingling with nearly 50 representatives from local businesses, agencies and the military.
Careers in health care, legal services, multimedia and county government were some of the many professional opportunities the students got a chance to learn about.
Being a part of career fair was sort of a homecoming for Nick Jordan, academic adviser at UWF.
Jordan taught English at Warrington Middle School last year. He returned this year to to show his former students how to prepare for a career in the computer and technology field.
Cybersecurity is getting a lot of attention as more companies are looking for ways to combat cyberspace crime, especially hacking and fraud, Jordan said.
“People are being hired for penetration testing and to prevent hacking,” Jordan said. “I remind students that are interested in math and science that this can be a lucrative career.”
Navy corpsmen Juan Carrasco and Ashton Kang were on hand to talk to students interested in joining the military and getting a “free” education.
“I was glad to be available to answer their questions,” Carrasco said. “I don’t recall attend a career fair when I was in school, so it was worthwhile to expose them to what we do.”
James Young of Turnaound Solutions, a consulting company that is in partnership with Warrington Middle School, helped organize the event, along with the Escambia County School District Workforce Development.
The idea of a career fair came about after Young discovered that many of the students he talked with dreamed of becoming rap stars or athletes instead of educators or engineers.
He was thrilled that so many people took time away from their jobs to talk about their careers and show the many options available locally.
“These kids are seeing and learning about careers they have never heard of,” Young said. “It gives kids other options if their rap careers don’t work out.”
Michelle Taylor, workforce director for Escambia County School District, said it’s important that students learn early about the different professions so they can make better career decisions.
“These kids came in not really knowing the possibilities for a career pathway,” Taylor said. “When they leave they will have done a constructive interview with a professional and better understand what leads people to different professions.”