Do you remember being a high school senior? The world lay at your feet, and the many paths to different career opportunities made it hard to decide what to choose. A college degree was the plan for many; for others, technical school. Whether pursuing higher education or the workforce was the next step for our peers, the ultimate goal of every single high school senior was and is the same: securing a good job down the line, to ensure a comfortable future.
The RGV LEAD Education and Career Expo, held September 22 at Casa de Amistad in Harlingen, aimed to show high school students that their options for a career are even more abundant than they imagined.
The business-oriented education and career expo featured over 80 booths providing career information and the chance to speak with individuals with first-hand experience in their fields. Students were encouraged to ask what courses these representatives had to take in college or what life path led them to their current position. “There were a lot of activities to help you get involved in what you’re planning to get into,” said Robert Cortez, a senior from PSJA North who attended the expo. “The business people gave you information about how to get your foot in the door.”
Although colleges and universities were present, including Texas State Technical College, The University of Texas, Texas A&M, and Our Lady of the Lake, the focus wasn’t recruitment but instead education. Students could ask what careers they could anticipate being feasible with each course of study and any other question that may be weighing on their mind.
Julissa Monico, a senior at J. Economedes High School, said the expo was a good experience for her as it opened her eyes to other options. “Before this, I was pretty set that I was going to stay in the Valley for college, but I learned that I can go somewhere else to get the degree I’m interested in – computer information specialist,” said Monico. “And a lady at one of the tables told me that a lot of people who want to do that have to know about accounting too depending on where they work, like at a bank.” Armed with the information, she can now make plans for a minor or double major in accounting or a related business field.
Similarly, Ryan Flores, a senior at Edinburg High School, found himself more interested in biology and the medical field after speaking with representatives from the Gladys Porter Zoo and TSC’s Emergency Medical Science Program. “The zoo was cool; they brought a snake,” said Flores. “Another exhibit had a working lung model. I also saw a baby being born.”
Exposure to these exhibits may lead a student to discover the major that really excites them – a factor that takes a backseat to earning potential for some students. However, students should consider that they will be studying this subject for close to four years; picking a major for which they are passionate reduces the chance that students will later need to switch majors. Changing their dedicated course of study is sometimes a necessary step, but changing it many times can set students back more than they often anticipate. And according to an article in USA Today, “The later a student makes a change, the more costly it is in tuition and time.”
Teachers, counselors, and parents can help students find the path that’s best for them and avoid costly mistakes. The RGV LEAD Career and Education Expo is one such avenue. Jacob Olmeda, a counselor at Robert Vela High School, has worked with the organization for many years, so he knew the 87 seniors he brought to Harlingen would benefit. “A lot of them don’t know about all these career clusters so I’m always looking forward to coming to RGV LEAD’s expos,” he said. “We also have a trip planned for the TSTC campus while we’re here.”
To learn more about future RGV LEAD events and expos, visit their website. Check out the gallery below!