Students learn about careers -- and career-killers

'I didn't know that they could check your Facebook'
Mar. 06, 2013 @ 07:17 AM

Like most teenagers, Brianna Spiva spends time in class, hanging with her friends and updating her Facebook page. Until Tuesday, the 15-year-old South Caldwell High sophomore had no idea her social life could affect her job prospects.

“I didn’t know they (employers) could look at every single thing,” Spiva said. “Whatever you say and put out there can be seen, I guess.”

Brianna and her friends Sydnee Sanders and Lauren Rash were three of about 500 high school 10th-graders attending the sixth Careers In Focus county-wide career expo, held Tuesday at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center. The idea was to introduce employers and career options to the kids, and teach them how to put their best foot forward when it comes time to interview for a job or apply for a college scholarship.

“It’s so important as a 10th-grader to get exposed to career choices,” said Kathy Jo Eckard, Career and Technical Education director for Caldwell County Schools. “They will be introduced to Web design, engineering, manufacturing and career choices. We’re trying to help them understand how to get there.”

The students first assembled in the auditorium before breaking into four groups. The students moved from room to room, examining the more than 40 exhibits from companies such as Caldwell County Home Builders, Bernhardt Furniture, WHKY Radio, Wells Fargo and Ticknock Studio. Also on hand were Lenoir-Rhyne University, Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, the health department and JobLink Career Center.

"We want to get the word out that homebuilding is still going, and will hopefully pick up," said Don Hamby of Caldwell County Home Builders. "It's a great career. Kids should take math, computer courses or any business class, such as accounting. It's definitely a lot more than just hammers and nails.

Seminars were held, informing students of the best way to present a resume, or how to conduct a proper job inverview.

They were told that up to 70 percent of all employers examine Facebook, Twitter and other social networks of job seekers. The students also learned that answering a cellphone during a job interview is a good way to be removed from consideration. They learned resumes should be short, neat and legible.

Sanders, 16, wants a career in the medical field. She paid close attention to CCC&TI's EMS program displays, asking the instructor on hand about “Sim-Man,” the medical mannequin that gets poked, prodded and examined as a training tool. She took copious notes before departing for the next round of exhibits.

Still, the conversation returned to social media’s impact on hiring practices.

“I learned you should watch what you put on Facebook or Twitter,” she said.

Bernhardt Furniture wanted students to know working in furniture doesn’t mean just working on the cutting room floor. Bernhardt has facilities as far away as Russia.

“We want to re-introduce them to furniture-building,” said Cherie Messer, Bernhardt human resources manager. “Bernhardt is a great opportunity to provide for their future families. We continue to grow and diversify. We’re here to stay.”

Like her two companions, Lauren Rash was most concerned about keeping her Facebook page clean.

“I didn’t know that they could check your Facebook,” she said.