Fair offers students tips on careers

Published 6:00 am Thursday, November 13, 2008

The school year is only half way over, but the Lincoln CountySchool District is getting its 2009 senior class prepared for lifebeyond high school.

The seniors from all four county schools massed at Bogue ChittoAttendance Center Wednesday for the Lincoln County College andCareer Day for the Class of 2009, an education and job fair thatsaw numerous colleges and several professions represented bydifferent companies gear up for a two-hour recruiting effort.

“The professional world is changing all the time. We want tomake sure we keep our students exposed to the many changes andknowledgeable about their college and career options,” said LincolnCounty School District Superintendent Terry Brister.

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Bogue Chitto Principal Bill McGehee said seniors countywide weresurveyed to gauge their college and career interests.Representatives from career fields of the top 10 survey choiceswere invited to the fair, along with several colleges anduniversities.

“We are continuing a tradition in Lincoln County of providingcollege and career day for graduating seniors,” McGehee said. “Weget the colleges, jobs and students in one location to get someexposure.”

McGehee said the number one field chosen by county seniors wasthe medical field, dispersed among several disciplines likenursing, radiology and sports medicine. He said the medical fieldwas likely the top choice because of students’ ability to see theprofession operating up close and personal.

“Due to appointments with doctors and Mississippi SportsMedicine, they are seeing a hands-on medical professional on thejob,” McGehee said. “And while they’re working on their ankle orknee, the kids ask them questions. They know there’s not justdoctors in the medical field, but nurses, therapists, nephrologistsand radiologists.”

Southwest Nephrology’s Kim Oster conducted the nursing workshopat the fair. She said high school job fairs are embraced by hercompany, which uses them as a community service and as a recruitingeffort to try and meet the nationwide shortage of trainednurses.

Oster said many of the students who attended her session werealready leaning toward a nursing career, and she was able to fillin the information gaps with details on the day-to-day duties of anurse and the average starting pay scale, which she said was around$16 to $20 per hour.

“It’s the greatest job in the world because it’s fulfillmentevery day,” she said. “One thing I’m trying to get through to themis you have to have the heart to be a nurse, because there’snothing worse than a mean nurse.”

Bogue Chitto senior Blaine Myers, 17, said she was alreadydecided on entering the medical field, but the job fair may havehelped her get pointed in the right direction.

“I wanted to be a doctor, but listening in at the radiology andnursing [sessions] has opened my eyes,” she said. “The job fairmade it a lot easier for me to gather the information Ineeded.”

High education-requiring fields like nursing weren’t the onlyprofessions represented at the job fair. Skilled labor careers,like offshore drilling, were also on hand and making an impact.

Drilling contractor Noble Corp. – one of the largest oildrilling companies in the world – sent representatives to BogueChitto from its headquarters in Houston, Texas.

“A lot of our guys that work offshore are from the Mississippiarea,” said Noble Corp. Recruiter Seth Secora. “We’re just tryingto get our name out there and let students know, because right nowthe oil industry is one of the only parts of the economy stillgoing strong.”

Secora said a high school diploma is all that’s necessary for anoffshore worker to start out at around $47,000 per year, with manyprofessional options – like drilling, engineering and corporatework – to choose from.

Bogue Chitto’s David Avants, a Mississippi-based Noble employee,said the drilling industry is recruiting to fill a 20-yeargeneration gap left by retirement.

“A lot of guys are retiring and going to their back 40, and wehave new crops coming in with no experience that we can train,” hesaid. “We offer all the training necessary to work with us.”

Enterprise senior Justin Johnson, 18, said he was alreadyconsidering following a family tradition and going into theindustry after attending the University of Mississippi, but heneeded a little more information.

“I wanted to know a little more about offshore drilling, andthis was helpful – I got a few numbers I can call,” he said.