Students explore careers at Connect 2 Careers event

By EMILY SPARACINO / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – More than 2,000 students in Shelby County attended a new career exploration event hosted by The Shelby County Chamber on Sept. 11-12.

Tenth graders from high schools in the Shelby County, Alabaster and Pelham school systems participated in Connect 2 Careers, an event designed to give students the opportunity to learn about different careers through hands-on demonstrations and interactive sessions.

Local employers in fields such as law enforcement, health care and banking spoke to students about their companies and what they look for in job applicants.

Jordan Powell, the Chamber’s Investor Relations and Support manager, said the event ran smoothly for students and employers.

“The companies were really impressed and the students were as well,” Powell said. “Everyone is really engaging.”

Abbey Johnson, a student at Chelsea High School, said the event was helpful to her as she prepares to start the cosmetology program at the Career Technical Educational Center next year.

“I think it’s great how they help you get a job, and they help you with business skills,” Johnson said.

Chelsea High School student Sage Hubert is thinking about joining the U.S. Coast Guard and said the event allowed students to explore different paths, such as the military.

“It’s been a great two days,” Shelby County Schools Career Coach Keyla Handley said.

The Shelby County Chamber President and CEO Kirk Mancer agreed, noting the event was also designed to benefit local employers as they make hiring decisions.

“We can’t do this without the businesses,” Mancer said.

Handley commended the businesses and law enforcement agencies for bringing props and equipment to make their booths more interactive for students.

ServPro, for example, parked a 32-foot trailer inside the exhibition center and allowed students to step inside to see the supplies the company’s Emergency Response Team takes on flood calls.

“We employ over 200 people in Shelby County,” said Tray Rasco, a franchise business consultant with ServPro.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and municipal police departments in Shelby County parked vehicles, trucks and flight equipment in the parking lot.

Along with the Shelby County Chamber, this year’s Connect 2 Careers was presented by Sysco, Central Six Alabama Works, Air Methods, Legacy, eCO Credit Union, 58 INC. and Turner Promotions.