Students learn about career choices

From left; Gloversville High School freshman Marissa Swart, Anthony Gray, Xzavea Scott, Nicholas Jazeboski and John Heimer learned about career opportunities from 30 area professionals during the third annual career day in the school gymnasium on Thursday. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

GLOVERSVILLE — Students at Gloversville High School learned about career opportunities available in their own community and abroad from professionals in a variety of fields during the school’s third annual career day.

Over 400 freshman and seniors met with 30 area professionals in careers that can be entered immediately upon leaving high school or after obtaining an advanced degree in the gymnasium on Thursday during an event originated by educators to get students thinking about their futures.

“We want them to know what is available so they are inspired to stay in school and to get their degree,” English teacher Lori DeVoe explained Thursday.

In past years career day was open only to freshman just beginning to consider what they may want to do with their lives after high school to set goals and to determine the path they will need to follow. For the first time this year, career day was also open to seniors preparing to end their high school careers who in some cases have not identified what they want to do next.

“Working with seniors we realized that some of them have no idea when they graduate what they want to do,” special education social studies teacher Patty Miller said. “This gives them the opportunity to meet people face to face and have the opportunity to ask questions….To meet local employers and find out what career and employment opportunities are available in our local area.”

U.S. Army Sgt. Alexander Velez, U.S. Air Force Technical Sgt. Ledra Thomas and U.S. Army Staff Sgt. James Burns participate in career day at Gloversville High School on Thursday. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

“We’re really working to build a nice bridge between school and community,” DeVoe added. “We want [students] to know what’s there so they have hope for their future.”

While exploring career options on Thursday, freshman Marissa Swart said she had her eyes opened to the various paths she could take to become an educator, a career she’s been interested in since she was young.

“There’s a lot of different opportunities,” Swart said, singling out the Family Counseling Center as the employer she found most interesting due to the agency’s involvement in childhood development.

Freshman John Heimer agreed that career day presented a wide number of options for consideration, pointing to recruiters from the military as offering the clearest path to his field of interest, a career in automotive engineering. He noted the military has a broad range of vehicles in need of maintenance and presents an option to advance his plans to continue his education after high school.

“I kind of want to go into the army area, I think it would push me to my limits and make me work for something,” Heimer said. “And I want to get a master’s degree so I have further opportunities to succeed in life.”

The Family Counseling Center's Fulton County Domestic Violence Program Team Leader Darlene and Human Resources Director Tonya Harris participate in career day at Gloversville High School on Thursday. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

Another freshman interested in auto mechanics, Nicholas Jazeboski, said he enjoyed learning about the career and technical education program at HFM BOCES from Administrative Coordinator Michael DiMezza during an information session in the auditorium.

“I want to learn more about it,” Jazeboski said of the program open to students beginning in their junior year viewing it as a possible path to attend his top college choice, the Rochester Institute of Technology.

For students who know what they want to do next and those remaining undecided, the Family Counseling Center table proved to be a popular stop where Human Resources Director Tonya Harris and Fulton County Domestic Violence Program Team Leader Darlene D’Onofrio provided information on the many professions within the single agency that strives to help area residents.

Within the core services of mental health counseling, children and family services and domestic violence services, Harris and D’Onofrio said there are a range of career paths students can follow.

“From operation of our shelter to community resource planning for our clients, safety planning, giving people the resources and tools to get out of their situation, to kind of help them move forward,” Harris said. “And what we do with the community…whether it’s family respite or just planning fun activities for children in the community.”

As Gloversville High School graduates themselves, Harris and D’Onofrio said they were happy to share what they do with students in the community hoping it will inspire them.

“The work that we do in this community is so important. I really feel that having people, and kids especially, come through the community in Gloversville and be able to give back and have a rewarding career on top of that is really why I’m here today, to expose them not only to the services we provide, but the kind of jobs that they can have right here in their community,” Harris said.

The pair also expressed their appreciation for the number of local officials participating in the event, providing a visible demonstration to students of the number of jobs available in their community.

“People don’t think there are jobs here and there are, look at how many tables are here,” Harris said.

“There are probably others out there who couldn’t be here,” D’Onofrio added looking at tables attended by representatives from Townsend Leather, Taylor Made, Walmart, the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, the Arc of Lexington, law enforcement and more.

For students looking to spread their wings in a specific field or an undiscovered area of interest, U.S. Air Force Technical Sgt. Ledra Thomas and U.S. Army Staff Sgt. James Burns intrigued students seeking an avenue to a variety of careers.

“We have over 140 career fields, so everything you can do on the outside you can do in the air force,” Thomas said. “You can get a degree in the air force, because we’re college accredited….Every single job has an associate’s degree attached to it.”

Burns noted that obtaining an affordable advanced degree is one of the most attractive aspects of military service for modern students concerned about the burden of student loan debt, adding that recruiters act as counselors matching students to the fields they’re interested in, while working with students to ensure they meet academic and other eligibility requirements.

“We help kids plan for their future even if it’s not the military,” Burns said.

“I love to figure out what their interests are and what their goals are and helping them navigate to where they’re trying to go, because a lot of people don’t know there are so many options out there,” Thomas added.

For students seeking to learn more about the reality of working in a specific area of interest and the different careers therein or those who were exposed to just a few of the professional opportunities available after high school, area representatives helped some students expand their horizons and others focus in more closely, much to their appreciation.

“I think it’s nice that all the people came out,” Heimer said. “It’s very helpful.”