The fair returned to the Kenai Peninsula, but there weren't any big tents, Ferris wheels or roller coasters -- it was the 13th annual career fair.
The event, held last week at Kenai Peninsula College, was organized and sponsored by the Soldotna Rotary Club and the KPC Career Center. It featured more than 55 local, state and national professionals who shared their occupational experience and insight with the future generation labor force. Every branch of the military also was in attendance.
More than 280 high school students flooded the classrooms for Career Day 2002. Some of the most heavily attended sessions included art careers, psychologist-counselor, law enforcement-police officer, attorney and paralegal, fish and wildlife protection, computer careers and high-wage unconventional careers for women.
"I like math, but have no idea what I want to do and I want to learn what my options are," said Ali Wykis, a 15-year-old Soldotna High School sophomore, before she attended the session titled "Most Employable Degree -- Accounting."
George Stein, a certified public accountant with Lambe, Tuter, Wagner and Moore, instructed the session. His said his hopes were to promote interest in his industry by changing the poor public perception for his trade created by the wave of scandals engulfing Wall Street, such as those with Enron and WorldCom.
"There's plenty of money to be made in the field of accounting," Stein said. "The demand is high, but not as many people are becoming accountants."
After the course, when asked if what she learned further interested her in accounting, Wykis replied, "Yes, I want to be an accountant more than before, and I'm leaning toward the public sector. I'm probably going to look into business schools and becoming a CPA."
Apparently, Stein's class stimulated at least one student toward exploring a career in accounting and probably several others as well.
Karyln Remsen of Kenai Central High School attended the session "Women and Trades- Electricians," taught by Bob Dipiero of Alaska Vocational Technical Center (AVTEC) and Peyton "Sparky" Sparks of Big G Electric and Engineering Inc.
"I like working on electrical stuff with my dad," Remsen said. "But I'm not sure if this is what I want to do or not."
The two electricians explained the pros and cons of their trade and gave stepwise advice on how to become a residential, commercial or industrial journeyman.
"Work with your mind, not your back," advised Sparks while informing the students of the importance of a college education and formal training.
"We're not here to try and sell anyone anything," Dipiero said. "We're just here to help them decide what they want to get into. They need to know everything so they can make the proper decisions."
Even the students who believed they already knew exactly what they wanted to pursue for their careers found the diversity of sessions informative and helpful.
"I want to be a chef, but I like fishing," said SoHi senior Natt Arledge after attending the session on fisheries research and management, taught by biologist Patti Berkhahn. "People depend on fishing research because if they fish too much, then there aren't enough fish there to support the industry. I find the research interesting."
There seemed to be an almost infinite diversity to the career interests of students who attended Career Day 2002, but from a show of hands in many classrooms and from what students had to say, nearly all of them agreed on one thing -- happiness with their future career was more important than money.
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