Of course, students know they will be meeting military recruiters, college admissions representatives and technical school teachers each year, but what they cannot prepare for is the potential inspiration from a career or college they never imagined.
Irene Taveira, coordinator of the fair and the College and Career Center at SSHS, said Thursday's third annual event looked much different from the inaugural, and even the second annual, College and Career Fair. The venue was changed somewhat, the merchants were varied and the attitude was a little bit different.
“In years past, I only opened the event to juniors and seniors because I figured they were the most prepared to begin looking at possible careers and colleges,” Taveira said. “After I had one of the technical education reps tell me that students are never too young to start thinking about what they want to do after high school, I decided to open it up to everyone. Now all students can come walk through during their classes or breaks and start talking to some of the people in fields they might be interested in.”
The first hallway, the Career Center and the library of the school had tables pushed together to squeeze 45 different post-high school vendors inside for the fair. Representatives of the Navy, Washoe County Sheriff’s Department, Sparks Fire Department, the University of Nevada, Reno, Truckee Meadows Community College and several more interacted with Spanish Springs students who approached their tables.
The Graphic Design Department of TMCC saw tons of students approach their booth to find out more about everything from video game design to Photoshop and photography. Taveira said the variety of booths allowed the students to be inspired by something new or learn more about what they are already interested in.
“We have to get those options out there to them and they need to be exposed to as much as they can before they graduate from high school,” she said. “Some people are lucky to have a great family background with parents who also attended college, but I think back to my upbringing and none of this was here for me. I can’t imagine what I would have done if I had all these tools and people to help me and inspire me. That is kind of how I run the Career Center and the idea I am trying to pass on to these students.”
Taveira said she plans to ask for feedback and critique of the event from the visitors, students and staff members of the school hoping to continue improving the event. She said Friday morning during a phone interview that some students had already commented about some of the influential people attending.
“One person the students really had a lot to say about was the nurse visiting who works in the local Sexually Transmitted Disease Clinic,” she said. “She has had a very interesting life because she began in the military then moved to the private sector in town, then she moved to labor and delivery, then to a rehabilitation clinic and the students were amazed at how much she was able to do with her degree and background. They were able to see that nurses are not just bedside caretakers.”
Taveira said the students stand to benefit most from the event each year, but she added that the outside community has a lot to gain from it as well. She said having the surrounding community come in and see what high school students were comprised of helped them understand a little more about Spanish Springs High.
“We are trying to get these kids thinking outside of only what is going on at the high school,” she said. “It is also a good chance for the outside community to see what is going on inside. Sometimes people can be intimidated to the high school and this helps to dispel that and see that we have nice kids who are interested in different things.”