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Speed jobbing exposes students to local career opportunities

More than 100 high school students and 45 local employers met face-to-face Thursday during a speed jobbing event at Beaufort County Community College, exposing teens to career options available in Beaufort County.

This year marks the second year the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce and Beaufort County Schools have teamed up to host the event, which is tailored for kids who have not committed to attending a four-year college.

“Both employers and the kids are very engaged,” said Robin McKeithan, assistant director of the Washington Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce. “It gives employers a great opportunity to talk with future employees. For students, it opens their eyes to opportunities available in Beaufort County. … We hear from employers all the time that we need to strengthen our workforce. The goal of this is to educate students on the opportunities available and put employers in front of students.”

One by one, the students cycled through five-minute sessions with professionals in a wide variety of careers, giving them the chance to hear what they need to do to join industries ranging from emergency services to education. In some ways, the sessions were almost like a prelude to a job interview, giving kids a chance to interact with people who might be their supervisors one day.

“Some of these employers, the students are really making connections with,” said Ashley Padgett, BCS student services director. “They’re not going to make connections with everybody, which is why we do the speed jobbing format.”

AN INSIDE LOOK: Jeanell Woolard and Sandra Ange, of the Vidant Beaufort Hospital, explain the ins and outs of what it takes to be a radiologist. (Matt Debnam/Daily News)

Padgett said she was particularly impressed with the students’ soft skills, from making good eye contact and shaking hands to asking good questions and listening intently. For the professionals they met, those skills were also noted.

“With seniors, they feel like they’re in crunch time almost,” said Wesley Jones, who represented State Employees Credit Union. “They’re really trying to figure out what they want to do in just a few months. They’re asking great questions. Some of them have a great sense of what they want to do and others are still trying to figure that out.”

While their interactions only lasted five minutes each, they left students with a new understanding of the possibilities that lay before them, and what it takes to have a career.

“I’ve had a really good day,” Washington High School senior Malachi Kitrell said. “This was enlightening and refreshing. Sometimes it feels like, as a high school student, that you don’t really have many options or that you have to go to college. Sometimes people make it seem like there aren’t many jobs around here, but if you really look, there are.”