Buddy Talyor Middle School hosted its first-ever career fair for eighth graders on Wednesday, Nov. 15.
The fair was the culminating event in a month-long endeavor to get the kids to think about their futures, Principal Cara Cronk said. It was held in the gymnasium, and parents were encouraged to attend with their children.
"We've been planning this since the summer," Cronk said. "It takes a lot to get this pulled off."
The fair featured representatives from a variety of careers: health care, the media, first responders, and city and county government departments. A welding instructor at Daytona State College's School of Workforce and Continuing Education even brought a virtual practice welding machine for students to try out.
I wanted a whole, wide gamut of different career options."
— CARA CRONK, BTMS principal
Cronk said it is important to give students a wide range of options and ideas to consider. While maybe most of the kids will go to college, plenty of students won't.
"The idea of sitting in a classroom for four more years after high school really does not appeal to them at all," Cronk said. "So I wanted a whole wide gamut of different career options."
Cronk said she enlisted Flagler Palm Coast Regional Chamber of Commerce President Greg Blosé to help get businesses to participate.
Blosé said the businesses he spoke to were all eager to take part in the career fair. Ultimately, he said, these kids will one day be part of the local workforce.
"It really wasn't too difficult to get our members to sign on to the idea of like, 'Hey, you know, come out and donate a half day of your time to help local students,'" he said.
Part of the success of the fair, he said, was due to the school's strategy of working ahead of time to help the students begin thinking about their future careers.
"This was better than whatever we expected it to be, at least on my side, because of how engaged the students were," Blosé said.
BTMS eighth grader Malakiyah Neste attended the fair alongside her mother, Megan Neste. Malakiyah Neste said she knows she wants to go into either surgery or anesthesiology, but the fair was a good opportunity to explore her options.
She said she went to the AdventHealth table first, which helped her get more information about the careers she's considering.
"I really wanted to come here because I wanted to learn about more why I wanted to do in life," she said. "I feel like I found what I've actually wanted to do as a career path."
I feel like I found what I've actually wanted to do as a career path."
— MALAKIYAH NESTE, BTMS student
Megan Neste said the fair was a good idea because this is the age when kids are starting to think about their futures.
"This was good to kind of give them that guidance and just be more educated on what they want to do in their career paths," Megan Neste said.
The support from the community businesses was amazing, Cronk said. She hopes the career fair will become an annual event.
"Knowing they took time out of their busy schedules to spend the day with our kids meant a lot," she said. "I can't thank them enough."
She said she was incredibly proud of how engaged the students were throughout the fair.
"They were so engaged, and they came up with such great questions, and they were genuinely interested," she said. "So I think it was a positive experience for everybody."