Union City High School students got the chance to explore various jobs, from chemist to cake decorator, at the 11th Annual Career Day at the north campus on Wednesday.
Approximately 80 volunteers came to speak to students, from freshmen to seniors, about their particular occupation, what it takes to get there, and what it’s like in the real world. Each student attended two sessions on separate careers that interest them.
Deborah Addas-Lillo, the schools to career program coordinator who was instrumental in organizing the event, said the purpose was “to give the students a glimpse of what they could be doing in the future.”
“We have everything from fashion design to TV production to medical careers to technology careers to business careers, so it runs the gamut,” she said. She added that the event is meant to help students who have chosen to go to college as well as those who have opted not to.
“Students know so little about careers,” said Addas-Lillo. “If you ask a student what they want to be, for the most part, they are going to say what they see. They want to be a doctor. They want to be a lawyer. They want to be a teacher or they want to go into fashion. What do they know about fashion? Do they know that there are people in fashion who are buyers, as well as those who design, as well as those who sell? There is a whole gamut of careers within each of these occupations.”
The volunteers share their own experiences with the students, from academic preparation to salary ranges and work schedules.
“It gives them an opportunity to really find out everything,” said Addas-Lillo.
Students said the day helped them choose or at least narrow down the list of possible careers.
“I learned that there are many careers that are really interesting, but so far, I am not sure what I want to do.” – Maria Rivera
Other students were not as sure about what they wanted in the future.
“I learned that there are many careers that are really interesting, but so far, I am not sure what I want to do,” said senior Maria Rivera. She added that she is currently going back and forth, trying to decide on a career in culinary arts or cosmetology. “I think [the career day] is going to help me to open up to more careers,” she said, “and see if there is something else I really want to do.”
Senior Migna Ortiz said that salsa instructor Christina Piedra, from the Cultural Explosion dance company in Elizabeth, N.J., helped her realize the possibilities for her future.
“I was kind of dangling between nursing and dancing, and what she told me was great,” said Ortiz. “I could [dance] part-time and still become a nurse, what I wanted to be.”
Piedra said that her goal was to explain to the students that they could follow their dreams.
“I just want to show them that you can take something that you love, something that’s an art, and make a career out of it,” she said. “And I want to show them how I was able to do it.”
She added that the key to being successful is to enjoy what you do.
“For the most part, I think the students find this to be a very interesting and exciting day,” said Addas-Lillo. “They look forward to it every year.”
Amanda Staab can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.