Nearly 4,500 eighth graders are getting an early start to Chesterfield County Public Schools’ November celebration of College and Career Readiness Month by visiting one of the largest career exploration fairs in the county this week.
The Chesterfield County students joined thousands of their peers from across the region at Richmond International Raceway for ChamberRVA’s fourth annual Mission Tomorrow, an interactive opportunity to explore potential career interests and learn more about in-demand job fields.
“As eighth graders prepare to choose what courses they will take in high school, it is important for them to learn more about the college and career options available that will help shape their future,” Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty said.
“These types of events allow students to have their eyes open to all of the jobs available to them,” added Bill Fiege, Vice President of Student Learning and Success at John Tyler Community College and a ChamberRVA leader. “Ideally, this event will help them prepare to get the education they need for the careers our local employers will have in the future.”
More than 13,000 middle school students explored a variety of career interests to garner information and a better understanding of what it takes to be prepared for a job. Through hands-on activities, interactive displays and discussions with more than 150 businesses from central Virginia, students were exposed to a diverse range of college and career and technical education resources within our local region.
Students had the opportunity to choose the booths they wanted to visit based on their specific interests. Many decided to work with their hands by tinkering on circuit boards, shaping metal with a grinder, tightening lug nuts with impact guns, or conducting soil erosion experiments. Others preferred the virtual world and flew airplanes in flight simulators or were immersed in simulated work environments while wearing virtual reality goggles. While several students had fun climbing into race cars or excavators, while a brave few took their shot at being a news anchor in front of a TV camera.
Businesses were asked to provide information about training or education requirements for careers in their field and were challenged to create engaging displays that would spark students’ curiosity and help them determine what jobs are available that they may not have known even existed, and they didn’t disappoint. Dominion Energy brought a line truck for students to explore, Elephant Insurance had a totaled car for students to inspect, and Civil Air Patrol had rocket models for students to examine. VCU’s College of Engineering brought a race car and John Tyler Community College had eye-catching robotics. Employers shared information about job responsibilities, as well as salary ranges and advancement opportunities. Students were left with a lasting impression that will help them plan as they move into high school and beyond.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for our students in middle school to imagine tomorrow and start to experience what job opportunities that are out there,” Dr. Daugherty said. “Students can see all of the incredible careers that are available to them by just walking around, talking to people, and having hands-on experiences. This event is an amazing learning experience for our eighth-grade students.”