First Posted: 2/21/2009
PILOT MOUNTAIN For the past week, students at East Surry High School have been exposed to a number of career opportunities that are open to them and have heard success stories from community members.
In coordinating the schools first Career and Technical Education Week in eight years, Deborah Voigt and her student teacher Jonathan Phillips, a student at Appalachian State University, hoped that the students could come away with an idea of what is available to them and what type of education it takes to pursue those careers.
About 25 percent of the student body showed up for each days sessions with the exception of a visit from Austin Caviness, WXII meteorologist, to which the entire student body went.
Weve had good feedback on it. The guests have been very complimentary, said Voigt. I hope this will continue now. Weve been limited on the number of people we can have come in so we hope to have different people next year.
The week not only gave students a chance to learn about careers available in the county, but also gave community members an opportunity to visit the school and see what the students are doing.
Its been good for people in the community to be able to come in and meet the students, said Voigt.
In hearing from nurses, representatives of Surry Community College, a banker, a consultant and many more, students learned more about what opportunities there are. Voigt and Phillips tried to find people in careers that are thriving so that students will be able to find jobs when they graduate. Some of the students were able to walk away from the week with a good idea of what their plans are for the future.
I thought it was really good. Its given me a lot of things to think about, said Will Edwards, a junior, who was inspired by representatives from SCCs simulation and game development program. I figured out right then what I wanted to do when I get out. I hope to be successful. The whole thing helped me figure out what I want to do and how I want to get there.
Jorge Salas, a junior, enjoyed hearing Patty Creed, department coordinator in critical care services at Northern Hospital of Surry County.
Its very interesting to care for people. I think I might be interested in being a nurse, he said. It opens up more careers you wouldnt think of.
Cole Gibson, a sophomore, already had an idea of what he wants to do after graduation, and a visit from representatives from SCC helped confirm those plans.
Its something that always really interested me. It expanded on what Ive planned on doing, he said. I think its been helpful.
While Fridays speakers were geared mainly toward teaching students to successfully market themselves, Creed took some time to explain her career as a nurse and the unconventional path that led her there. She encouraged them to not give up on themselves and to work hard to be successful.
Just because you fail or make one little mistake doesnt mean you cant come back from it, she said.
After working for a number of manufacturers, Creed was inspired to become a nurse after her own experiences in the hospital. She had some nurses who were great and some who were not.
I wanted to be a really good nurse to show people I cared about them, she said. When youre in the nursing program, you think youre learning so much. But when you really learn is when you get out in the real world.
Valerie Oberle, a former vice president with the Walt Disney Company and consultant with The Oberle Group, spoke about the importance of attitude and being a good leader. Even though she did not have a college degree, she was able to quickly move up in the Walt Disney Company because of her leadership techniques.
What I discovered is that I liked to be in charge of things, she said. Think about things youve done that youve been really proud of. Those need to be a part of your life. Youll be a much happier person.
After beginning to work for the Walt Disney Company before Walt Disney World opened its doors to the public, she became the first female executive in the company in 1984.
Ive always had a very hard work ethic and that has helped me in my career tremendously. Be a sponge with everyone you meet. Keep your mind open, she said.
She urged the students to dress for success on job interviews, to be prepared and to volunteer for everything. She stressed that volunteering in the community could lead to important contacts down the road. Volunteering for duties in the workplace can also help by showing a willingness to try everything.
You never know when you might meet someone who will be special in your life, she said. You learn more and harder lessons from so-called failures.
Students also heard from David Hayes, a business and industry alliance specialist for Surry County Schools, and Karen McBennett, an employment specialist at Goodwill Industries, on how to properly market themselves in the workplace.
Contact Morgan Wall at [email protected] or 719-1929.