Written by: Claire Brumback, Public Affairs Intern
Eighth graders usually aren't thinking about their future careers. They're worried about an upcoming basketball game or homework they need to finish before tomorrow morning. Students can struggle connecting what they learn in the classroom to future opportunities. With that, they don't appreciate how their interests could lead to career opportunities.
Junior Achievement of Central Indiana believes that it's never too early to start thinking about the future. This year, they introduced JobSpark, a two-day career fair to help "spark" an interest in the students and get them to think about their future. The inaugural event allowed more than 7,000 eighth graders to explore different career fields from technology and public safety to natural resources, agriculture and everything in between. The West Pavilion of the State Fairgrounds was lined with anything and everything that could get a student excited about his or her future, like fire engines, drones, mock TV sets and flight simulators.
Twenty-five Indianapolis Power & Light Company (IPL) employees volunteered at the event, teaching students how electricity is made, about alternative energy sources and career opportunities within the company. We even took our electric vehicle and a bucket truck. Students tried on gloves that our linemen wear when working with electric wires, and we taught them about energy efficiency with our hands-on light bulb display.
Going into the event, there was some concern that the students would not be interested, but that wasn't the case at all. One thing that really peaked their interest in these careers was how much schooling and training they would need for each position and what the starting salary would be. You could see the light in their eyes when they learned the energy industry can pay very well.
The greatest part about this event was showing the students in the community that there are many options for great careers right here in Indianapolis. Many of these students have been here their whole lives, so seeing these opportunities for success right here in their own communities could encourage them to stay. In turn, this will make their generation more tied to their local communities and more apt to make a positive impact.
IPL hopes to continue helping Junior Achievement encourage the younger people of Indianapolis gain interest in the energy industry via education programs and job fairs like JobSpark. This is a lot to live up to, but as the JobSpark planning committee said:
"Never underestimate the power unleashed by a single spark."