PEORIA, Ill. — The second day of the third annual Career Sparks event saw about 4,700 eighth-graders at the Peoria Civic Center. The students came from over 70 schools and nine different counties.
This career fair offered about 90 choices for those decisions in a variety of fields. And with an added bonus, they were all hands-on.
Brent Baker, director of workforce solutions, said the career fair has been growing in career opportunities and student attendance every year since 2017. He said the purpose is to give eight graders an early start at what careers are accessible to them.
“Careers Spark is designed toward eight graders to really drive decision making as they’re looking toward high schools,” Baker said. “We want them to be able to make decisions based on their interests and skill set.”
The fair had booths related to Education, Health Care, Law Enforcement, Architecture, Communication and more.
Kallyee Reynolds, an eighth-grader at Ingersoll Middle School, was enthusiastic about her experience.
“When we first walked in I saw that over there and it kind of interested me because we actually get to feel what it feels like and learn about it more,” Reynolds said.
The hands-on career both that interested Reynolds was the Respiratory Therapist booth.
Organizers like Grace Gibson, a Respiratory Therapist student at Illinois Central College, said it’s one of the most popular attractions every year because of the organs they bring in.
“I think having the lungs and heart really does kind of attract them as well as knowing the information about being a Respiratory Therapist,” Gibson said.
Both organizers and students believe the fair has been successful in leading young minds to their desired careers.
“It’s drawn me to that even more to be a doctor or it doesn’t matter if I’m a doctor or a nurse as long as I’m helping someone,” Reynolds said.
Baker said at the end of the day he wants students to know they have a variety of options to pursue careers after graduating high school.
“We want them to know that you don’t have to necessarily go right into college to pursue a career you’re interested in,” Baker said. “A lot of students don’t know they can actually get a two-year degree after high school and walk into a 45,000 a year job.”