BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
WEST BURLINGTON – More than 300 Lee County and Danville students invaded the southeast portion of Southeastern Community College on Wednesday to hear about career paths as they get ready for four years of high school.
The 8th Grade Career Exploration Day, sponsored by Lee County Economic Development Group, Burlington Partnership, and SCC was in its 3rd and final day on Wednesday and featured employers from all sectors of the workforce. More than 930 southeast Iowa students participated in the event over the three-day period. The first day was Monday and featured 5th graders.
“We’re looking at careers and different occupations. So the whole eighth grade class came up,” said Tyler Wade, an 8th grader from Fort Madison who had just left a YMCA presentation on sports and wellness. Wade said he thinks something in the construction field might be more up his alley.
Alliant had a pretty interesting class and I’ve been thinking about a career in construction and that kind of thing,” he said. “They talked a lot about field work and what it takes to be a lineman and digging holes and stuff.”
He said the guides for that class said the salary for that type of work would be somewhere near $60,000.
“That’s sounds pretty good,” he said.
LCEDG Marketing and Communication’s Director Dana Millard said this is the second year LCEDG has participated in the event.
The students were exposed to six different career paths including health care, construction, marketing, business, and others.
Students rotated between different classes every 25 minutes from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Shelly Marshalls from Unity Point Health Care in Keokuk talked with students about the different career paths in health care including emergency room, becoming a registered nurse, certified nurse specialist, and other nursing degrees.
“Advanced Practice Nurse is the highest level and those nurse are making around $100,000 per year. So nursing has lots of potential,” she said to a group of about 17 students.
Fort Madison Real Estate Agent Carrie Fraise, from Fraise Auction and Real Estate, spoke with a group of kids on marketing and graphic design. Fraise said she has a business degree from Drake and was discussing with the students how paths can change.
“I tell them my degree is good for what I do because it’s kind of encompassing, but I was an actuarial math major in college. I had a professor sit me down and ask me if this was something that I was comfortable with and it was like Ughhhh! I thought since I was good at math, that’s what I should do. So that’s the good lesson for these kids at this age,” she said.
“I mostly discussed marketing and graphic design and photography because I think that’s important in the future. I did have one student ask me about the real estate field and that’s, you know, your 60 hours pre-license and 35 hours after you pass it. So that’s pretty short compared to a degree.”
Vicki Kokjohn, Vice President of Employee Operations at Fort Madison Community Hospital, told one of her sessions that there were more than 200 jobs in the health care field.
“My nephew graduated from ISU in genetics but its agriculture side, but I have another nephew in genetics who’s in the health field, so there are so many opportunities for you,” Kokjohn said.
“This is a great time to start thinking about it as 8th graders because, technically, after this year you have four more years time to start honing in on what you want to do when you grow up.”
Millard agreed and said the sessions are really important to the eight graders because the next four years are formative for their career choices and some classes can be taken now that help enhance the college coursework.
“I think it’s important because at this age they really don’t know what career paths they’re going to go down and what’s available,” Millard said. “So they’re able to look at the typical jobs like nursing, but then we can say, ‘Hey this is how we incorporate technology with drones, or in real estate we can show here’s what we do all day. We just don’t show people houses, there’s a lot more to it.”
Tayler Eismann of Aeroview Services out of Sperry, an industry leader in drone land surveying, talked with students about making models of land based on surveys. His company produces tiled photos and 3-D models that are used for a variety of issues including owner usage, site surveying, where infrastructure can go, etc.
Alliant Energy also had a large classroom and showed a video focusing on internships that have manifested into full-time jobs for many of the utility’s employees.