COOLIDGE — Choosing a career can be tough — especially at a young age.
For some high school students, the decision is not always a cut-and-dry one, and plenty of people have been known to begin studying in a particular vocation — or even enter the workforce — to find that the career that they were interested in is not exactly what they thought they signed up for.
The Central Arizona Valley Institute of Technology is aiming to address that problem early on — or at the very least get students excited about their prospective careers — through an annual expo known as CAVITcon.
CAVITcon is designed to expose first-year CAVIT students to what their potential careers might look like following successful completion of the two-year career and technical education program. The event, which is broken up into three rotations, also provides students with hands-on experience with some of the latest technology in their respective industries of interest.
Students, who come from high schools in western and central Pinal County, were given the opportunity to participate in a series of 20-minute rotations at different stations, where they got a glimpse into three different career paths.
“We’re trying to up the student engagement,” said massage therapy teacher William Snyder. “We’re seeing more and more that when we have students involved, they remember more, they make those connections and hopefully perform better on exams and assessments.”
Presenters ranged at the third annual event held on Aug. 22 from a small business owner in the cosmetology field and a massage therapist to firefighters and police officers. New to this year’s event was the addition of presentations given by program alumni who have gone on to have successful careers.
“Two years to a 16-year-old is a lifetime,” Snyder said. “So we wanted this to provide them a light at the end of the tunnel (and) show them what they’re able to achieve in two years.”
One of the alumni presenters was Codee Fox, a massage therapist who works for Massage Envy in Gilbert. She graduated from CAVIT in 2018 and decided to come back to give the presentation at CAVITcon in the hopes of encouraging other students to stay dedicated to the program.
“I think it helps students really realize that there are great opportunities (out there),” Fox said. “It’s nice hearing it from a teacher, but when you hear it from someone who graduated and immediately got a job within the career field you’re going into, it helps put it into perspective.”
CAVITcon is just one of several expos the school puts on in hopes of getting students excited about their future careers. This includes Cautioncon, designed to teach students about occupational safety. Cautioncon acts as a supplement to the 10-hour Occupational Safety and Health Administration training course all CAVIT students are required to participate in.
During the safety expo, students can assess the different occupational and health safety hazards they might encounter once they enter the workforce.
“We’re having some overt hazards, like massage oil spilled on the ground, and something that they might not know yet like an unlabeled cleaning product,” Snyder said.
The idea is to give students more hands-on opportunities to enforce what they learn in the classroom.
“If kids are lacking in an area, we can do more hands-on (activities),” dental assisting teacher Kansas Olson said. “We can see the areas where they need review (and) do more hands-on (projects) because they’ll remember it more that way.”