Students learn about career choices at Rosemont's annual Real Life Fair

Although most people might think of it as a typical middle school career day, the event held at Rosemont Ridge Middle School Feb. 5 was more officially, and accurately, known as a real life fair.

On that day, eighth-graders had the opportunity to mingle with professionals — 43 presenters — representing careers from a wide range of fields. Interested in a career in medicine? Students could chat with a nurse, a neonatal nurse practicioner, an emergency medicine physician or a pharmaceutical sales representative.

Looking for something a little more adventurous? Talk to a fighter pilot, firefighter, filmmaker or screenwriter.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: LORI HALL - Former Trail Blazer Jerome Kersey, seated, and NBA commentator David Shelofsky, far right, speak to eighth-graders during Rosemont Ridges annual career day Feb. 5.There was even a genuine sports celebrity on hand. Jerome Kersey, a former Portland Trail Blazer, was dishing out less career advice and more down-to-earth mentoring to the students who flocked to his table in Rosemont’s gymnasium.

“It’s something kids don’t do — talk to adults in a professional setting,” Kersey said. “It’s good the school does this. A lot of the kids asked educated questions about my career.”

Those seeking tips on how to break into the field of sports celebrity received the same advice that most of the professionals from other fields were dispensing.

“Hard work. Dedication. Passion for what you do,” Kersey said.

Passion was a recurring theme, as students asked the different presenters what they loved about their work.

“I’m very passionate about this,” said Donald Kool, a representative from a local pipefitter’s union. “It’s as good as if not better than a college education. You learn while you earn.”

Calling apprenticeship “the original four-year degree,” Kool offered students detailed information about the wages apprentices could expect to earn, including a step-by-step increase to a journeyman’s pay of nearly $40 per hour.

The pay wasn’t the only enticement Kool’s profession had to offer.

“You’re making fire; you’re making sparks. You’re building stuff. You’ve got a trade,” he said.

The message resonated with some students, like Luc Jonker. He had come to the fair hoping to learn about careers in engineering, building and construction, with an interest in aerospace and civil engineering. He appreciated the information Kool offered.

“It’s good pay, as well as not needing to go to eight years of college,” Luc said, explaining why he might be interested in apprenticeship.

“If I can find both, something that I’m passionate about that can also support a potential family, I’ll be happy,” he said.

Julie Beko, a volunteer with Kaiser Permanente’s Thriving School’s initiative, was at Rosemont to lead students through mock job interviews. Before sitting down at one of the interview tables, each student filled out a realistic employment application.

“The kids come up here and I’m reviewing their resume,” she said. During each interview, Beko asked questions like, “Why do you think I should hire you?” and “How would a friend or professor who knows you well describe you?” The applications and the interviews were designed to give students an idea of what a real job interview would be like.

During her interview with Beko, Maddy Itschner made a great impression. Beko complimented the eighth-grader on her eye contact and voice volume and said she liked the way Maddy incorporated parts of the questions into her answers.

“It went really well,” Maddy said after her interview. “I like to talk to people about my likes and what I’m strong in. ... I felt strong. I felt confident.”

“I don’t know that any kids are going to find their last job today,” said Holly Miller, Rosemont’s PTO president and the event’s co-chairwoman. “But they might find something they hadn’t thought of before.”

By Kate Hoots
Education reporter
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