By BROOKE WANSER
Eighth-graders exited yellow school buses outside the Williamson County Ag Expo Park on Thursday morning, before pouring into the arena for their annual career exploration day.
World of Possiblities, the title of the career exploration day in it’s 16th year, involves each eighth grader from Williamson County Schools and the Franklin Special School District.
Rebecca Collins, a career counselor for Williamson County Schools, said about 3,300 students would attend the event, which ran from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
One hundred exhibitors included Williamson Medical Center, Williamson Fire-Rescue, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, CASA and many more. Cosmetology, music, business, graphic design, engineering and science were some of the fields represented.
Before students attend the fair, Collins said they take a career assessment test and are prepared by teachers to learn about fields in which they show aptitude.
Booths at the fair were color-coded based on fields, she said. Once at the center, students asked exhibitors questions from a prepared list.
High school students who participate in career and technical educational programs also attended the event to speak with junior high students about their course choices for high school.
“The reason we do it for eighth graders is they have to start planning what they’re taking in high school in anywhere from January to March,” Collins said. “We’re helping them think through it, try it now, if they don’t like it then they’re not wasting their time when they get to college.”
Brady Pierce, who attends Spring Station Middle School in Spring Hill, said his career aptitude test revealed strengths in engineering and science.
In a current class, Brady said he has built a puzzle cube, similar to a Rubix cube, and a coffee table. He said his interest in the field doesn’t necessarily come from his parents, but from his grandfather, who lives in Ohio and owns a home-building company.
“I kind of just like building things,” he said.
Williamson Inc. Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer and President Matt Largen said the chamber became a partner in the event about five years ago when he realized the importance of youth to the future of the business community.
The chamber has worked to recruit more businesses to exhibit since they came on board. “Not only is this important to be good corporate community citizens, this is your future workforce. This is your chance to convince these students to really give serious consideration to your profession,” he said. “This is the pipeline of the workforce.”
Largen said the chamber has brought in more exhibitors and getting companies that apply well to student’s interests. “It’s not just coming here and sitting at a table,” he continued. “Put an exhibit together that is interactive and engaging with the students. You’re selling not just your business, but your profession.”
Students were instructed to wear business casual, which ranged from suits on some boys to polos and jeans, while most girls donned dresses and blazers.
“Some of them even wear ties,” said Collins, “They get into it, and they really ask great, relevant questions.”
This year, students who asked good questions and were well-engaged with exhibitors received a golden ticket, which they turned into a box for the opportunity to receive prizes.