SUMMERSIDE — Justin MacEachern knows what he wants to do with life.
© Nancy MacPhee/Journal Pioneer
Justin MacEachern and Millie McKay chat with Tyler Goodwin, admissions counsellor with Mount Allison University, during Career Day at Three Oaks Senior High School Monday. More than 1,000 students from four Prince County high schools attended the event.
His future includes attending university, most likely UNB or Mount Allison, studying business and possibly becoming an accountant.
But, admitted the Grade 12 Three Oaks Senior High student, his future school of choice could change after visiting the his high school’s Career Day Expo.
“I am definitely going in with an open mind. I want to talk to all different types of institutions and see what they have to offer and see what different programs they have and different specifics like that.”
Having that chance, exploring the options and speaking with professionals is important, a chance he likely won’t get again.
“It gives you an idea what the career is like, different occupations in different sectors such as business,” added MacEachern. “Talking to somebody in that specific career and finding out what they do on a daily basis and what their career is like and stuff, salary range and stuff like that, is helpful.”
The Three Oaks senior was one of more than 1,000 students who filtered through the school’s gym doors to chat with representatives from universities and colleges, private institutions, sector councils, law enforcement, the military and other groups.
Information was also available about scholarships, student loans, student housing and, for undergraduates, ensuring they are on the right track toward their career.
It’s what Three Oaks guidance counsellor Jim Donovan calls the “full-meal deal.”
For more than a decade Donovan has been planning the expo, with a larger event held every two years, including the one held Monday.
The daylong expo, open to the public in the evening, featured 37 professionals, in morning sessions, talking about their careers, followed by the trade-show style set up in the afternoon featuring close to 60 exhibitors from Atlantic Canada.
“There is a huge variety, something there for everyone,” said Donovan, adding students from Kinkora Regional High, Kensington Intermediate-Senior High and École Évangéline also attended the expo. “It’s a community event. It’s to encourage anyone and everyone that is interested about post-secondary or looking at their opportunities that exist not only on this Island, but potentially external to take advantage of what’s available in the Atlantic Region, here at one location.”
MacEachern is fortunate, knowing early on in his high school career just what he wanted to do after graduation.
“Business is a great subject for me to study because it is such a broad area of work, whether it be an accountant or marketing or continuing onto law, there are lots of different options,” said the teen. “I have some interest in accounting and law, so I will have to talk to somebody and see what I want to do.”
But that’s not always the case for soon-to-be graduates, said Donovan.
He rough estimates that about 65 per cent of TOSH graduates move on to some type of post-secondary studies, whether it’s university, college or studying a trade.
That’s why events like the Career Day Expo, which are aimed at not only helping out those like MacEachern, but those still uncertain of their career path, are important.
“You want the young adult to make an informed choice,” said Donovan. “At the end of the day, the choices you make will either open doors or start to close doors. What I always try to encourage a student and parents and guardians to do is to look at the options but to also be realistic to the options and to look at your strengths, your interests and aptitudes.”
Millie MacKay, another Grade 12 student at TOSH, said most of her friends have a clear idea of what they want to do after high school.
She hopes to work in international development, possibly working with the United Nations or a non-governmental organization. First, she plans to get her bachelor of arts, most likely at either Renaissance College at UNB or Mount Allison University.
“Days like these gives students a chance to understand that there are so many different opportunities out there for them,” added McKay. “They don’t just have to follow one path. They don’t always have to stick to the arts. There are also other opportunities besides university. There’s apprenticeships, there’s colleges.”
The possibilities — and the opportunities — are endless.
“You want to feel like you belong there and not that you are just going there to get the education. You want to be able to have fun and feel like this is where I am meant to be,” said McKay. “I want to be able to walk away with that sense of this is where I totally have to go for this career path.”