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Jobs for everyone: Career fair introduces students to local opportunities

Nearly 750 students took steps towards their futures on Friday as they learned more about careers available within the area.

The fourth annual Next Step Covington County Career Expo was held at the Kiwanis Community Center, and students from Andalusia, Florala, Opp, Pleasant Home, Red Level and Straughn took advantage of the many interactive learning experiences showcased at the event.

“So far, I’ve learned I have a lot of options to choose from,” Jansen Zorn, an 11th grader from OHS said.

The career expo was divided into 11 sections, grouped by specific careers.

Approximately 65 businesses, colleges, agencies, and military personnel participated in the event.

The Lurleen B. Wallace Community College had several different technical programs in the expo, from cosmetology – with real classes on how to curl hair – to diesel and heavy equipment mechanics with actual semis.

A representative of the Federal Bureau of Investigation even brought a real crime scene truck.

Covington Electric Cooperative had a hands-on booth.

Beth Dean, career coach for Covington County Schools, said that this year’s career expo was very diverse.

“We’re always trying to branch out with our expos and this year we had quite a few newcomers and new people. We had representatives from pharmacies, a representative from the F.B.I., and The Alabama Forestry program even came out,” she said.

Students reported that they learned a lot.

Ansley Foster, an 11th grader at OHS, said she feels more informed since attending the event.

“I have a lot more information on what I can do,” Foster said

“I learned a bunch about different careers, different opportunities. It was good to talk to so many people who do what they love and are passionate about,” Taylor Nelson, an OHS 10th grader said.

Ariyid Hightower, a 10th grader from SHS, said he knows what he requires for his profession.

“I’ve always wanted to be a psychiatrist and this career expo taught me what I have to do to be a psychiatrist,” Hightower said.

Sarah Meredith, another SHS 10th grader, said she really enjoyed the career expo.

“I really want to go into nursing and there are a lot of different booths for the medical field,” she said.

The career expo was an idea formed by Polly Dubose, career coach for Andalusia and Opp city schools; Brandon Ware, career coach for LBWCC; and Dean.

“As career coaches we really wanted to serve as a liaisons for education and community,” Dean said.

“To not only see what all Covington County offers but to let students know that businesses are there, what they make and what they have to offer. With this career expo, we tried to make it local.”

Dean hopes that the career expo helped students.

“I hope that it’s opened their eyes and that they’re interested in something because of the expo,” she said.

“I hope they learned from this expo that there are so many different positions and in so many different fields. There is something out there for everyone.”

As for next year’s career expo, Dean says they’re already planning.

“We pretty much start right after one ends,” Dean said.

“It’s been a great career expo and we couldn’t have done it without the help of all the local businesses.”