Going into last year’s Greater Victoria School District Career Fair, Reed Jones didn’t know what to expect.
The high school senior had a vague idea of what he wanted to do, expressing interest in marine engineering, but he still wasn’t sure if that was his true calling.
“I went in a little bit close-minded, thinking I wasn’t going to find something I wanted to do, but it helped me narrow it down,” said Jones, who’s now considering a business career. “The biggest thing I learned was to keep my options open. For instance, I’m still enrolled in French immersion – a lot of the people at the career fair said, ‘Take French, you can go into the military and have all the options for government jobs.’”
Every year, the district-wide career fair helps thousands of teenagers like Jones choose their career path and identify jobs they may enjoy. This year’s fair, taking place Thursday, April 21, features more than 100 exhibitors, covering such industries as media, tourism, trades, health and government services.
“We really try to cover a wide range so students have a lot of choices to pick from, and hopefully come across something that they didn’t even know existed,” said Nicola Priestley, district careers and transitions co-ordinator.
While the fair is put on by the Greater Victoria School District, it is open to students any South Island school district. Priestley said they see students from Sooke and the Gulf Islands, as well as private schools like the Maria Montessori Academy and St. Margaret’s.
The exhibits offer students the opportunity to learn about different industries through talking with exhibitors and trying out interactive demonstrations.
“Sometimes students can be a bit shy, so we really encourage the exhibitors to bring things that will spark their interests and be a jumping off point for conversation,” said Priestley.
“It’s a good opportunity for students of all ages to see the requirements needed to get into specific careers and talk to people one-on-one who have met those requirements,” said Jones.
Jones classmate, Paul Buehler, said last year’s fair showed him there are career options for all types of students, no matter what their academic strengths are.
“It gives kids new hope,” said Buehler. “I was worried because I wasn’t doing sciences, but then I realized there are so many other options to be successful.”
The fair, open to students in Grades 8-12, takes over the auditorium at the SJ Willis Education Centre (923 Topaz Ave.)Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free.