For Abby Sutberry, a junior at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic High School, navigating her options for after graduation feels scary and daunting. When faced with the all-too-familiar question, she looks down at her feet and lets out a laugh before responding to what she’ll be “when she grows up”: Right now, she has no idea.
According to a 2017 Teens and Careers Survey conducted by youth financial literacy organization Junior Achievement, 12 percent of high schoolers do not know what career they want to pursue. Furthermore, the Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics reported in a 2014 study that one in 10 college students change their major twice.
St. Michael the Archangel Catholic High School Wednesday hosted a career fair, attempting to combat this uncertainty with information and presentations by field experts.
“I’m all about students being more aware of and more open to their options,” said LaShea Wilson, the school registrar and career fair organizer. “Some might not know what comes after college. It’s not just the normal routes they may think of.”
Sutberry found this out firsthand. She attended a presentation by a banker, and also explored a career she’d never contemplated before – firefighting.
“It’s cool just to hear about,” Sutberry said of this experience. “Career day will help more people figure out what they want to do.”
Sophomore Augustina Kish says her mother asks her about her future career all the time. Her passion for English has led to an interest in law, journalism and even entrepreneurship.
However, some of the day’s best opportunities introduced students to a “random” option – a field they might not have expressed interest in, but still learned about. According to Kish, this pushes students out of their comfort zones in a way that amps up the excitement of the day.
For sophomore Lanelle Cole, who describes the college application and major declaration process as “a little stressful,” the most random fact came from a visiting dentist. As students chatter in the halls while passing between presentations, Cole shares a piece of little-known information, asking, “Did you know a person can have six wisdom teeth?”
On the other side, presenters also received their share of strange questions. Matt Moderson, a lawyer at Stinson & Leonard Street, had to stop and contemplate when a student asked what happens if someone fails the Missouri Bar Exam.
“That doesn’t happen very often,” he said with a laugh. “These kids were really attentive. I came because I wanted to support them.”
Kyle Twenter, a pilot with the Missouri National Guard, used the event to not only connect with students in the community, but with his own two kids, as well. Twenter, who has two sons who attend St. Michael, enjoyed the opportunity to step into their world.
Ultimately, career day may not have given students all the answers. But as high schoolers walk out of their school doors alongside people carrying briefcases, as well as those in scrubs and military uniform, they can begin to imagine themselves in their shoes.