In the Fredericksburg Expo Center on Wednesday morning, Chancellor Middle School eighth-grader Caroline Hein used a stethoscope to listen to a pair of artificial lungs.
As an instructor from Germanna Community College’s nursing program adjusted settings on her smartphone, Hein got to hear what lungs sound like when they are healthy, asthmatic or infected with pneumonia.
At the same display, Hein could look through the textbooks that Germanna nursing students use and the clipboards they carry during clinicals. She could explore models of organs and dummies used to instruct students in CPR or how to administer a tracheotomy.
Hein was one of more than 5,000 eighth-graders from Spotsylvania, Stafford, Fredericksburg, Caroline and King George counties scheduled to visit the Discover Your Future career readiness event organized by Spotsylvania County Public Schools Wednesday and Thursday. The event brought about 100 local employers and training programs to the Expo Center to give students an opportunity to learn about career options.
“This is amazing,” said Hein, who also planned to visit displays by Mary Washington Healthcare’s cardiac, radiology and physical therapy units. “The medical field is only looking more and more appealing.”
Outside of the health care arena, students attending Discover Your Future could visit displays from the Virginia Department of Transportation, Lockheed Martin, Wegmans, Chick-fil-A, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, Robert B. Payne, local county governments and police, fire and rescue departments, Marine Corps Community Services, MC Dean and Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren, in addition to many others.
Spotsylvania schools spokeswoman Rene Daniels said it is important for eighth-graders to start thinking about possible careers.
“In the spring, they start selecting the coursework for high school,” she said. “There are a lot of different opportunities for them in high school that can lead to different career paths.
“It’s important for us to let these kids know that we want them all to be career-ready, whether they are going to go right from high school to a career or through college first,” she continued. “We want them to be ready for their future.”
Daniels also said the event was meant to show middle school students “what’s out there.”
Many of the organizations present showed students the large range of available jobs within their field.
In addition to clinical jobs, Mary Washington Healthcare’s display gave students information about available careers in the marketing, communications and pastoral care fields.
Students visiting Rappahannock Electrical Cooperative’s display got to spin a wheel to get information about jobs in the meter shop, communications, public relations, customer service or on the lines.
Downtown Fredericksburg’s Wm Mason II Violin Shop showed students how the shop makes its own violins and rosin, but it also displayed a poster listing all the other possible jobs related to music and performance, such as lighting design, music education, music therapy, finance, fundraising and tour management.
“Chances are you won’t be performing live as a career,” said Harrison LeFrois, rental manager at the violin shop. “But there are tons of other careers within music. It’s not limited to just performing.”
The students welcomed exposure to new career ideas.
“I never thought of myself at VDOT,” said Chancellor Middle School student Rowinn Myers after talking with representatives from the department. “But I like how it incorporates maintenance. I’m a perfectionist, so if something isn’t perfect, I work hard to get it that way.”
Later on Wednesday afternoon, Discover Your Future was open to community members as a job fair.
On Thursday, 650 area 11th- and 12th-graders will attend WorkForce Connect, which will hone in on job readiness, Daniels said.
They will attend résumé-building workshops and talk with local employers about how to dress and communicate at work.
There will also be mock job interviews with local employers.
“This is great for our businesses as well, because this is their future workforce,” Daniels said.