1/26/19 Turrentine Middle School exposes eighth-graders to local careers

How glamorous is your job?
Eighth-grader Joey Getner high-fives Burlington Royals mascot Bingo during her interview at the Turrentine Middle School career fair on Friday. Getner quickly learned that mascots don’t talk. But she managed to communicate enough to learn that mascots play baseball, dance, and give high-fives, thumbs-up, autographs and hugs.

Photos by Woody Marshall / Times-News

Eighth-grader Joey Getner high-fives Burlington Royals mascot Bingo during her interview at the Turrentine Middle School career fair on Friday. Getner quickly learned that mascots don’t talk. But she managed to communicate enough to learn that mascots play baseball, dance, and give high-fives, thumbs-up, autographs and hugs.

Turrentine Middle School exposes eighth-graders to local careers
By Jessica Williams, The Times-News 1/26/19     
Reprinted with permission.  

Eighth-graders pack the gymnasium Friday to learn about career opportunities, at the Turrentine Middle School career fair.  

Eighth-graders pack the gymnasium Friday to learn about career opportunities, at the Turrentine Middle School career fair.

 

Turrentine Middle School is asking an age-old question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

The school hosted its fourth annual job fair Friday, Jan. 25, inviting about 300 eighth-graders to learn more about jobs they might be interested in.

Of course, the flashier the job, the more students gathered around the table. But fields like law enforcement, culinary — and, yes, even journalism — aren’t as glorious as many students think.

Sara Barringer, a crime scene investigator with the Burlington Police Department, said CSI is a field that is “extremely” romanticized thanks to the many CSI television shows that have captured audiences since 2000.

“I try very much to let the kids know that, in reality, it’s not like TV. They put, in an hour, what will take two to seven years,” Barringer said. “There are similarities to what you see on TV, but now let’s stretch it out. You have to have a lot of patience because you’re going to process a scene, you’re going to collect evidence, it’s going to take much longer than what it does there, and then you’re going to have to go to court and you have to remember everything you do, and then you’re going to have to write a two- to 15-page report at some point so English is important, math is important — all those different things.”

Barringer added that one of the things television gets right is that her job is rarely boring.

On the other side of the spectrum, skilled trades — like HVAC, electrical, carpentry and plumbing — don’t get television treatment, but can offer higher pay and less college debt than many of the more “popular” careers.

Bill Claypool, service manager for the Burlington branch of Beco Inc., is working with the N.C. Association of Electrical Contractors to develop an apprenticeship program at Alamance Community College — part of an ongoing effort to fill positions left empty as baby boomers retire or die.

Claypool said the biggest challenge in getting young people to consider a career as an electrician is that “most of them just don’t understand what we do.”

“It’s not a big, glorious thing, but if they can understand what we do and they’re interested in something like that, they’ll usually pick up [a pamphlet] and say, ‘Hey, that may be something I want to try,’” he said.

Lately, Beco employees have been busy installing home generators (thanks, weather).

Fair organizer and Turrentine teacher Michael Falk knows most students are going to change their minds about the career they want, but believes the exposure is important.

“We’re just trying to give them an opportunity to think and explore, ask some questions, interview some people,” Falk said. “[They] might not [want] the specific job that’s here. It might be another part or another component that’s associated with that business, with that industry. Universal Forest Products has come in years past, and that also deals with engineering, it deals with the math, it deals with construction. You have all of these other components that come together. It’s not just one person.”

The hope is that students will leave with options, and participants will leave feeling like they’ve helped guide the future workforce, no matter the job they choose.