November 12, 2012
Last week, I was invited to participate in the annual career fair held in the gym at West Pine Middle School. Since this is my daughter's school, I jumped at the opportunity to see her in her "native environment" and do my level best either to impress or embarrass her.
Let me just say the key to selling your career is candy, lots of it. It doesn't matter what kind, though chocolate is always a winner. But it might as well have been Halloween, for all the interest the kids showed in the various candy baskets.
The career spectrum was well represented in the gym. West End Fire-Rescue had a table next to Mountaire, the poultry producer.There were tables for FirstHealth (health profession,) pharmacist, Southern Pines Parks and Rec, Arthur M. Blue Law Office (legal profession) Barnhill Contracting (construction trade), The Country Bookshop (writing and literature), Southern Software, Pinehurst Resort and several others. Perhaps the most popular table of all -- the one which could not be topped for coolness -- was the Secret Service.
At my table, I represented The Pilot and our associated businesses: PineStraw, O.Henry, the Moore County Telephone Directory and the Lee County Telephone Directory.
First through were the sixth graders, who had a genuine interest in the booths ... and the candy. Several questions asked: "How has the economy affected you?" "What do you do?" "How much money can you make in this field?" and "Were you in the Call Me Maybe video?" My cool level went way up when my answer to the last question was "yes."
The dynamic changed dramatically when the seventh graders came through. They cared little for the career tables, preferring instead to hang out in their little clique clusters. The best question from this group: "Do you have any more candy?"
Actually, at one point, I noticed a mad rush toward the Pinehurst Resort table. Figuring that something was up, I conducted a little investigative journalism, finding the Pinehurst chef was giving away freshly baked cookies. Foul play!
Mercifully, I left after two hours, getting spelled by advertising representative Kerry Hooper, who suffered through the rest of the seventh and eighth graders.
So ended my experience with our future workforce. My takeaway: Future employers will need to offer cool tools, awesome sunglasses and guns or a top-notch chef. Oh, and a never-ending candy bowl.