Each year, Galena High School hosts a Career Fair for its sophomore students. The goal of the career fair is to expose students to the possibilities and realities of a successful career path. Sophomores are invited because 10th grade is often the point at which they begin looking into colleges and potential career interests. Professionals from various backgrounds participate as speakers, teaching kids about their jobs including education, how they got to where they are, volunteer service, the importance of networking and more.
Starting the day early at Galena High School, our group set up displays. We had pamphlets with pictures of the lab, a beaker filled with concentrated beet juice and an Erlenmeyer flask with diluted beet juice to show a small portion of lab processes. Most importantly, we had the WETLAB mascot, a Labrador, with its personal protective gear on to demonstrate the importance of safety and to show that science can be fun. These items provided visuals for the kids and were used during our presentations. We engaged the students by asking questions about their own interests and discussing how there are many different and exciting careers in the scientific field.
The first groups of students did not have many questions, but had a genuine interest in a diverse range of careers in the scientific community. The later groups were more vocal and asked questions ranging from work hours, how often we dealt with the public and the amount of technology available to work with. We hope we sparked some interest and motivation in the children that are our future.
We presented to six groups of sophomore students for 20 minutes each. We talked about what WETLAB does and why our business is so important. Most students seemed fairly knowledgeable about water quality and the need for testing in Nevada, as well as locally here in the Truckee Basin. Each of us discussed our education and work history as well as provided suggestions for volunteering and networking. With different backgrounds and career paths, the students got to hear our individual perspectives and learn about the unique experiences that led us to our current careers. This helped to emphasize that there is more than one way to find an interesting and fulfilling career if you follow your passion. While we all had varying messages, the resonating theme was to stick with your studies, despite the challenges, because in the end, a career in science is very rewarding.
While it will be a few years before these kids enter the workforce, their desire for a career in science and the level of interest is encouraging. Our industry has a promising future if we continue to feed young minds and encourage them, teaching them how to deal with challenges and overcome obstacles to pursue what is important to them. Hopefully, networking in a more intimate setting plants the seed that will inspire them to grow toward their goals, prepare for higher education and gain crucial career experience.