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Career options re-imagined at annual career day

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Mission: Graduate in partnership with Rio Grande High School hosted about 400 eighth grade students at the second annual Pride to Profession Career Day. The day is intended to give students an opportunity to learn about different professions that might be available to them and get a preview of high school.

The jobs we see available today may change drastically in the future,” says Jessica Nojek, Mission: Graduate executive director. “Giving our young people an insight to the types that do exist today, and skills required at this early age, gives them a starting point and an opportunity to find a field of interest that will not only support their growth, but the growth of our economy.”

At the career fair portion of the event, students spoke with representatives from 29 organizations, some of which provided hands-on activities.

In breakout sessions, they engaged in more in-depth discussions with professionals from the teaching, human resources, and legal professions. A University of New Mexico Student Affairs representative provided an overview of the college admission process. In another session students learned about the importance of internships and were introduced to Why I Work, a website that features a financial tool that shows you how much money you need to make to afford the things you want and need. 

I was impressed that students at this age showed a genuine interest in the many facets of graphic design work,” says Leah Sudduth, graphic designer for United Way of Central New Mexico. “They were brave enough to ask me about my story, followed by good questions including the type of education it takes for a career like mine and what it pays. That tells me that these young students are thinking about their future.”

Students completed a pre- and post-survey about their career plans and experience during the event.  Most students stated that they plan to take college or vocational classes after high school after attending the career day.  Students shared that they enjoyed the experience, were engaged, and walked away “more aware of career options” in Albuquerque following the career day. Overall students were satisfied with the event and agreed or strongly agreed that they are feeling more comfortable about entering high school following the experience. They also agreed that they were more motivated not to miss school.

Thanks to the following organizations for spending time with our students: 377th ABW-Kirtland AFB, Actor Merritt Glover, Air Force Research Laboratory, New Mexico, Albuquerque Public Schools, Albuquerque Police Department, ACLU - American Civil Liberties Union, Animal Humane New Mexico, City of Albuquerque Aviation, Central New Mexico Community College (CNM), Children Youth & Families Department - Behavioral Health Services, Explora, Fidelity Investments, French Funerals & Cremations, G&T Foods, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, New Mexico PBS (KNME), Presbyterian Healthcare Services, Rio Grande Credit Union, SAIC, Sandia National Labs, SMART Sheet Metal Workers Local 49, Teachers Federation, Tri Core, UNM College of Nursing, United Way of Central New Mexicor, and Villa Del Oro.

Pride to Profession South Valley Career Day is one element in Mission: Graduate’s strategy to increase the number of career exploration opportunities available to students in central New Mexico and increase the number of degrees and certificates. In February, 370 Albuquerque students participated in Groundhog Job Shadow Week, and in March, 400 students from Valencia County Schools participated in similar activities. Our long-term plan for this initiative is to expand the number and quality of career exploration offerings available to students throughout the four-county region of central New Mexico.

Mission: Graduate in the News: Career Fair held at Rio Grande HS for middle school students

See photo collage on Facebook.

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