Published: Nov 11, 2009 02:00 AM
Modified: Nov 09, 2009 09:52 PM
Hundreds of students went to the mall after school Thursday - but instead of shopping for shoes, they were shopping for careers.
The fourth annual Middle School Career Expo at Northgate Mall connected younger students with professionals to learn about the skills they might need to pursue different jobs. Durham Public Schools and the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce sponsored the event.
The geologist booth was crowded with interested students. Similar groups surrounded the booths for sports editor, veterinarian, doctor, lawyer and cosmetologist.
Taylor Walker, a sixth-grader at Carrington Middle School, knew right away where she wanted to visit. She marched up to the booth of Rachael Boone, life coach.
"Mostly now, as kids, we're messing up our lives," Taylor said. "We only have one chance in life. If I have the chance to help, I'm not screwing it up - I'm helping someone else out."
Walker makes good grades but has friends who have doubts about their direction in life. They're losing their faith in God and caring less about school, she said.
Hyper-motivated students like Walker are rare, said Boone, who explains her job using sports metaphors. She's a life cheerleader and coach who helps individuals develop strategies for winning a game.
"Even when you look defeated, you practice harder for the next game," she said.
It can be harder to explain being a grant writer.
"It's a little esoteric and abstract," said Ted Whiteside, grant writer. "You don't start with grant writing, you start with your passion. And mine is writing grants for early-childhood education."
Then, Whiteside said, he gets into the important skills like writing and researching on the Internet.
Whiteside explained some of this to Georgetty Crozco, 13, who listened attentively.
"I guess I really like writing," she said. "But I really like taking care of plants and math."
Crozco said she enjoyed talking to the veterinarian and some of the scientists.
But Alice Lee, 14, said she found the musicians and artists at the expo more appealing than the technical careers.
"My mom wants me to be a doctor," Lee said. "But I think I'm more interested in other things."