Smithfield sophomores get a glimpse of possible futures with school’s Career Fair

Smithfield sophomores get a glimpse of possible futures with school’s Career Fair

Smthfield Fire Department Captain Steve Quattrini talks to Smithfield High sophomores on what their aspirations are for careers during the school's Career Fair Nov. 10. (Breeze photos by Michael Smith)

SMITHFIELD – For Smithfield High sophomores, and students who will follow them in the years to come, getting a head start in finding a career just got a little easier.

The Career Fair program, which started last year at Smithfield High, is tied into the WaytogoRI career search program to help Rhode Island students explore and learn about career paths they may choose to pursue.

WaytogoRI also aids students from elementary through college, and even adult learners and parents, in planning for college, getting financial aid for schools they will be applying for, and help growing a portfolio.

“Last year, the 9th-graders completed a series of activities on the program which enabled them to identify their top career interests,” said Smithfield High guidance counselor Lora DiMuccio.

And based on those results, the students are placed in their top three career clusters from the 16 they had to choose from as freshman, such as health science, human services, and communications to name a few. Each cluster is a 25-minute workshop with professionals in each field lending their experiences, both good and bad, pathways, and advice with students.

Although the program helps guide to a career path, the reality remains most students will choose another field during adulthood.

Paul Barrette, who is the director of technology at Smithfield Public Schools, told sophomores that by the time they are 32-years of age, they will have changed jobs four times.

“The average for baby boomers is 11 job changes in their lifetime,” added Barrette.

Barrette, who was advising students in the arts and audio/visual technology, said learning the hard skills in technology only makes up 15 percent of a person’s success rate in landing a job.

“More than 85 percent of successfully finding a job comes from learning soft skills, which carry with you for all your life,” said Barrette.

Janet McGinnis, a guidance counselor at Smithfield High, was making the rounds in each workshop and said students were asking questions and taking notes.

“So far, it’s been working great,” she said.

During the second workshop, Captain Steven Quattrini of the Smithfield Fire Department said to students that being a firefighter has its ups and downs as a career.

“One of the great things about my job is I get to ride a truck every day,” he said. “The worst thing is that I get to ride a truck every day as it means someone is in trouble, and no one wishes that.”

Noting it’s very rare that a firefighter works a full shift without a call, Smithfield, even though it is a small town, gets its fair share of calls from both fire and police.

However, Quattrini said one of the perks of being a Smithfield firefighter if you choose to continue your education, the town will pay for any classes you may take.

During the third cluster, 92-PRO FM Marketing and Promotions Director Barbie Jo DiMaria drove home to students the importance of doing internships if they choose a field in radio, television, and journalism.

“There are very limited jobs in broadcast,” she said, also noting an internship led her to her current position at 92-PRO FM. “So getting an internship can lead you to a full-time job.”

DiMaria also told students to always let bosses and managers know what your goals are, which shows interest and drive.

One student asked DeMaria what was one of the best things about her job, to which she answered, meeting cool people in the music industry.

“But you also get to see the ugly side of the entertainment industry as you tend to put artists on a pedestal and when you see them having a bad day, you see them in a different light that you weren’t expecting,” she said.

After this year’s program ends, the sophomores will have a quarter-long project as juniors next year in focusing on one career and learning more about that career, such as expenses and pay.

For this year, DiMuccio said the overall message of the program for students is no matter what they are doing, make good connections, network, and don’t burn bridges.

“You’ll never know where you might end up,” she said.

Paul Barrette, Smithfield Public Schools Director of Technology, answers questions by Smithfield High sophomores on learning soft skills to succeed in landing a career during the school's Career Fair Nov. 10