Ideas, Plans, and Careers for my Future- Connie Tran, Overton High School
Every student enters the career fair with feelings of savory excitement from the thought that they are beginning to step out and make their mark on the world. Each person realizes that have the chance to be whoever or whatever they dream. The fair offered me that experience, but I felt shaky at first, questions popping into my head, asking myself, am I really ready for this? Am I ready to find out how I will contribute to society? However, in that period of time, I knew didn’t have to decide right there on the spot, so I went exploring to uncover a potential “me” at the fair. However, before I had entered the career fair, I had already a few preferences in mind; I wanted to work in the STEM field, and I had narrowed down my choices to the science field particularly. Knowing what sort of display I had in mind, I approached a booth relating to a medical field first. I interviewed a resident physician , Anna Kate Moen, who worked at Vanderbilt Pediatrics Residents. In my mind, the medical field had always interested me than the any other because not only could you study the world of medicine and humans, but also witness the effect I have always seen medical workers instill; they have the power to help change a life for the better. Moen told me about how her career has changed over the past years, and I found that it required a lot of schooling to achieve where she is now. 4 years of college, 4 of medical, and 3 years training got Moen in her current status. Since she is involved in pediatrics, she does a lot of work for children, and told me that winter was the toughest season of them all. I soaked up the knowledge, and was able to make a connection with my sister who was recently sick. This booth also really caught my attention because it had a hands on activity. Students were shown how to do stiches and able to test their stitch work on an orange. I feel this booth had the most influence on me because it was already in my most interested category and that it drew me closer to the medical field when I was deciding on a future academy. Although, I believed it is important to see what other careers had to offer, so my next stop was Stephanie Weeden Wright who specializes in electrical and computer/engineering. This was another STEM career, but I had not given much thought to the engineering section as much, so I was able to really broaden my horizons. Wright worked with Lipscomb University and was also a professor. She explained to me what some special challenges that people encounter in the job. “As an engineer, you have to work with other people and effectively communicate your ideas to other engineers.” This quote from Wright was able to provide me with a clear image of the effort it must take to get your ideas and opinions across because in the world of engineering, it is like clockwork; you need all the gears to make it spin. However, when I see every booth in the career fair, I wonder if this is their true calling or something they enjoy. I asked Wright that if she had the ability to start all over again, would she have changed anything about it. She once again explained to me that her job is much appreciated, “No, being an engineer is awesome. I’m getting paid to do what I love.” This quote got me really positive about the limitless and possible careers in the world, and I was determined to create an opportunity in order pursue a profession I really admire. So far, I had really been inspired and motivated to acquire a passion, but patience was needed. Before, I went to another booth, I could see Shoney’s was handing out cookies. I wondered what a great sponsor, and I hope wherever I work for will have the something similar where it influences people and society in a constructive way. Of course, I realized I should ponder these things later when I am actually on my way to the working world. However, to be honest, I can see where it influences my future decision-making because if I want to work, I desire for it to be with a cause. Where you work can represent a lot about you more than you thought I realized at that moment because my opinion of Shoney’s had changed. If you like your job, then you must have a reason to why to continue you passions. With that thought in my mind, I searched up an average number of jobs in Tennessee and found an amazing number. There was a range of up to 800 non profit jobs available, for civilians to participate in . Seeing a sponsor up close, and what they do really lets me grow as an individual and tells me that there is way more out there, then just what you would see in an average classroom. My perspectives and views used to be more limited because I was unaware of certain facts and opportunities, but now that I can identify more options, then I can fully control what kind of job I want without having to hope and guess that I chose something in my best interest.
Speaking of best interest, I actually had a look at charts for income rates in Tennessee last taken in 2014. Even as high schooler, I thought it would be important to know what was the average income rates in the state in which I live in. After looking at the chart, I was able to examine what I would most likely be making or above, if I am able to dedicate my time in my career that benefits society. Although, I do realize it is not just about the money. Of course, it is a necessity, but at the career fair when I talked to each person at their booth, I wanted to love my future job as much as they love theirs. This helped me walk on the right path because it straightened by priorities and assisted me to understand that there is more to a job than earning money. So, my goals and decisions were influenced to pick a career that does not just pay well, but secure a job that would benefit me also as a person and individual.
Figure 1: chart of Tennessee income rates up 1994-2014 
Besides subjects in school that interest me, I also look up to my parents. My mother works at the bank, and she deals in the investigation of fake checks. Having this kind of background, I decided to check out the Tennessee Credit Union, whose booth was run by Tracy Dain. Dain displayed different types of forgeries possible, and after watching some of the work and understanding it, I realized that it is an important to have a good background knowledge on whatever career you are pursuing because I was able to understand and interpret well when I could make a connection with prior knowledge or with a concept I learned over time. Another booth I approached was held by the Belmont of College of Pharmacy hosted by Professor Kiningham. Kiningham told me about her education after high school. I asked because I wanted to know where would I be in high school, and she described to me that after high school, she had 2 years of college and 4 years of pharmacy. I really find the medical field interesting, but medicine itself with the capsules and prescriptions, I had not learned much in detail, so I asked Kiningham what kind of skills would be most crucial to her job. She elucidated the importance of being organized, having the integrity and interest of a scientist, and working really hard. I figured the last was a given, but I did find her speech very significant. It brought me a taste of reality once again on how if I truly wanted to achieve my dream job, I would have to work harder than ever to grab hold of opportunities, and not let sit idly by and wait for chances to come knocking into me. Most of all, Kiningham said that this job requires you to “care.” A synonym to care would be passion, so having a passion is one of the most important elements of any career. I contemplated that I had not peaked where I already figured out what really drew me in all the way, but it impacted my perspective that I should search and pursue an occupation that always keeps me interested and alive. One of the last booths I visited was the Dialysis Clinic, Inc. who was arranged by Patricio Avendano, a corporate. Honestly, when I approached the booth, I had no idea what was dialysis. However, Avendano defined that it dealt with substitutes for kidneys in the body when the organ is no longer able to proper functionally. I was very excited to learn something new and captivating, and I questioned why he had chosen this career field, what made him develop an interest. Avendano replied that he once was a technician that had worked with machines and enjoyed fixing things. Then, his machines were able to function as an artificial kidney. I found this rather fascinating because one interest in a certain area, had developed into another. Avendano also explained a few of the important skills to have, which were math and trouble-shooting. I realize that math is a core subject, so you really do have to use it everyday no matter what your job may be and I should take advantage on the learning opportunities I can grab ahold of. Avendano’s lecture allowed me to see that a prior interest could still open doors for another opportunity. I was able to become more open-minded and decide that just because I had one career, did not mean I could not pursue another in a totally different field.
After the end of the day, I felt like I was able to discover something new behind the uncertain gray clouds, a sun peeking through. It is up to me to find that sun and passion, but I registered that as “wake up” sign. School is very crucial in a journey to success because without it, I would not be able to grab hold of as many opportunities. This changed my way of thinking at my education and my surroundings. A successful person realizes that knowledge is power, so that has influenced me to gain as much as I can. Learning more about the different types of careers really made my world seem bigger and I was able to develop a more open-minded attitude. Narrowing down what profession I would pursue is still a mystery at the moment, but I was able to narrow my focus and concentration on my school work, and I was influenced in a positive way where the career I decide to follow is chosen out of passion and not just a job. My long-term and short-term goals have also changed for the better because I can already see myself paving a path down to a bright future.
Krause, Mike. “Profiles and Trends Section I. State Context of Higher Education.” Profiles and Trends Section I. State Context of Higher Education – TN.Gov. TN.gov, 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.
 “Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare.” Non Profit Jobs, Employment in Tennessee | Indeed.com. Indeed, 2016. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.