By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — A career fair for eighth-graders from all four Scott County Catholic schools offered an opportunity for the youths to learn more about possible careers and what education will be needed beyond high school.
Students from All Saints, John F. Kennedy and St. Paul the Apostle Catholic schools in Davenport and Lourdes Catholic School in Bettendorf gathered in the Rogalski Center at St. Ambrose University to listen to presentations by business representatives and college students.
JFK guidance counselor Ana Schott said last week’s event brought 29 presenters and booths. Three of those organizations have been represented at all eight annual events. Five new organizations joined this year.
The career fair provided an opportunity for students to interact with community leaders, discover what careers they may be curious about and to consider options they may not have thought of.
“They can spread their wings,” Schott said.
She noted that students may know what their parents and neighbors do but are not aware of other careers that might fit their talents. “These presenters are satisfied in their careers. They are the cream of the crop in our community. Many are practicing Catholics who give up their time to be here.”
The Gospel calls for people to connect with each other, and that is what the career fair does, Schott said. Catholic teaching talks about discerning one’s gifts. “We can help the student hone in on how they may take their gift and grow and pursue a career,” she said.
Students didn’t take a campus visit this year, instead listening to St. Ambrose University students talk about what college is like and how to prepare for it. They explained class schedules, how much time to spend studying and provided other details about college life. They tried to stick to academics in their presentations.
Emily Monahan of Vera French Community Mental Health talked about careers in psychology and therapy. She said Vera French works with youths and adults who have minimal to intensive mental health needs.
Brian Heidgerken with Conference Technologies talked about design engineering. He emphasized that technology is always changing. His company works with businesses to provide technology ranging from projectors to virtual reality to large screens. “There are two skills you need — learn and communicate.”
He displayed an early cell phone: a heavy, bag device that was plugged into cars. Users could not carry the phone with them to talk. He showed other phones to demonstrate how technology has changed over the years.
Phones previously were limited to oral communication. Later on, keyboards were added for texting and today smart phones offer voice, texting and applications to surf the internet, play games and more.
Student Colin Briggs of All Saints said he enjoyed the day. His favorite station featured a probation officer, although he is undecided as to what he wants to do for a career.
Maddie Carroll, a student at Lourdes, said her favorite station featured the practice of law. She would like to be an attorney or an architect.
School counselors said the fair has grown each year and they appreciate the use of the Rogalski Center for their event. A fundraiser held last fall at QC Entertainment Center in Moline, Ill., helped pay for the career fair.
Students in grades six through eight were invited to fun, fellowship and pizza at that event, Schott said. That fundraiser generated more than $1,000.