Opportunity to explore jobs

Hundreds of SMSU students attend career expo

Photo by Jake McNeill Hundreds of students pack into the Southwest Minnesota State University R/A Facility for the Southwest Minnesota Career Expo on Wednesday.

MARSHALL — High school and college students flooded into the Southwest Minnesota State University R/A Facility on Wednesday morning for the Southwest Minnesota Career Expo.

The event hosted more than 1,200 students looking for higher education and job opportunities.

“The importance of being here today is making sure that all of the students are exposed to all of the different occupations that there are,” said Maria Peters, one of the vendors at the event. “A lot of times, they’re only aware of maybe what their parents do or what their family members do, so making sure that they know all of their options is important.”

The event had a wide variety of options available for the boys and girls in attendance. From agriculture to business management, from art to engineering, students looking for work in any field had a wide array of options. Even those who aren’t necessarily set on what they want to do see the event as a way of exploring their future.

“I want to find some inspiration on what I want to do when I’m older because right now, I don’t really know what I want to do. This is going to help me figure out what I like,” Marshall sophomore Grace Rokeh said, adding that she’s currently leaning toward trying to be a self-employed entrepreneur. 

Others are more certain on their future. Cydney Manning of Lakeview High School said that she’s looking to go into law enforcement. She added that she talked to some people at the State Patrol program’s table and got some helpful information about the process of joining that line of work.

“I want to be able to help people, but I can’t do the medical field,” Manning said with a laugh.

The expo isn’t just an opportunity for the students, though. The potential employers also see the event as an opportunity to discuss ideas with bright young minds and relish the opportunity to open kids up to new possibilities.

“It’s pretty exciting to talk to the students and just make them realize that when we talk about agriculture, it’s not just one thing. It’s a wide variety of options and many of them that they have not even thought of before,” said Nathan Hanel of the Minnesota State Southern Agricultural Center of Excellence.

“It’s exciting to hear what their ideas are as far as what they want to do for their careers and just open up their mindsets. Think about, ‘hey, have you thought about a career in agriculture, food and natural resources?'”

For those not looking to go right into the work force, colleges and universities such as South Dakota State and Minnesota West Community and Technical College each had several tables set up for their different programs ranging from STEM programs to learning trades.

Jesse Enstad, who was at the event on behalf of the SDSU agricultural and biosystems engineering program, said that he sees the event as an opportunity to expose students to possibilities in growing fields of work so they have greater opportunities down the line, but also that it’s always a pleasure to just interact with the prospective students. 

“I just find it interesting to learn the different students backgrounds. Where they’re coming from, what their interests are, maybe what their future brings and trying to see maybe how we can help them out,” Enstad said.


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