Eighth graders at Geneseo Middle School had the opportunity to learn about a number of different jobs – including digital marketing and web design – during a career fair in the school gym and cafeteria on Friday, Jan. 10.
Team WTI members Holland Block, a digital marketing specialist, and Hunter Draminski, a web specialist, joined other Geneseo business professionals to speak with the more than 200 eighth-grade students at GMS.
“I was impressed with how the students all dressed up. They’d walk up to you, say ‘Hi my name is,’ and then shake your hand,” said Draminski. “They did a good job asking us questions.”
As part of the State of Illinois’ new Career and College Readiness Standards, schools are required to have a career exploration day, said GMS counselor Amy Feely.
The career fair capped off a career exploration unit in which eighth graders participated in a career survey, learned how to present themselves professionally and created a series of questions to ask employees attending the fair.
Though Geneseo Middle School has hosted career fairs in the past, GMS Principal Nate O’Dell said the last one was more than a decade ago.
“They’ve been excited about this career fair,” said O’Dell. In addition to learning about career opportunities, the fair gives students a chance to work on what O’Dell called “soft skills.”
“They say ‘thank you’ and make eye contact and all those other interpersonal skills that are vitally important,” he said.
Geneseo Superintendent Dr. Adam Brumbaugh said he applauded the teachers at GMS for organizing the career fair and preparing students for the day. Each took a survey in advance to see how their skills matched jobs and industries.
“Students are able to see what jobs are available locally. Ideally, we’d love our students to stay in the community. This helps them learn about the local workforce and what skills are needed to meet the needs and be good employees for local businesses,” said Brumbaugh.
Eighth-grade students will register for high school classes later in the spring. Thinking about jobs and careers for the future helps students plan their high school education track.
“This offers a starting place for students to see if they’re on a college track or a vocational track. We realize that college isn’t for every student, so we also look at career readiness. We want them to know what their options are,” said Brumbaugh.
Team WTI’s Block and Draminski were good examples of each education path. Block attended a junior college before graduating from a four-year school, while Draminski entered the job market after high school.
“They were interested in how we got started and what our backgrounds were,” said Draminski. “They found it interesting that I started to learn to code when I was around their age. I enjoyed explaining how I got into the job.”
“A lot of the students were very curious about what we do,” said Block, explaining that digital marketing included Search Engine Optimization, blog writing, online reputation management, social media management, and online advertising.
“They were interested to see all the types of things they could do in this field,” said Block.
Though the students had a set of questions they could ask participants, they were also able to expand to other questions.
“Most were nervous and started off with the questions they had, but as we spoke and joked with them, they’d get less nervous and branch out to ask other questions,” she said. “They all took the career fair very seriously.”
Both Block and Draminski had laptops at the career fair in order to better demonstrate their jobs to students.
“Some of the kids really wanted to see more, and to look at some of the sites and pages we’d created,” said Draminski.
The 2020 Geneseo Middle School Career Fair was attended by approximately 20 companies, representing everything from the military and education to human services and technology.