NITRO, WV (WOWK) — It’s not uncommon for high school seniors to feel extra pressure when deciding their next steps after graduation.

That’s why Nitro High School held a career fair on Thursday known as “Career Quest.” This was the second career festival the school hosted.

“It all started with a spark on how to do your CDL license, and we realized that we just weren’t letting our seniors know that there’s more than going to college,” Kim Sallada, Kanawha County Schools Career and Work Skills Training Coordinator, said. “There’s actually career entry positions that you can go into to develop a career.”

Students had the chance to network with a variety of vendors – from hair stylists to the Nitro Police Department to EMS responders and more.

The goal was to open students’ eyes to careers they may have not considered before, especially seniors who will be graduating in just a few weeks.

“Students now are faced with a lot of options, and they really don’t know still what they want to do. So, this was just a way to bring together different vendors to be able to talk to them more one on one,” Sallada said. “We have talked to the vendors. It’s been very positive for them, and it’s been very positive for the students.”

Sarah Aman is a senior at Nitro High School. She said while she knows that she wants to become a Respiratory Therapist after high school, she still benefited from Thursday’s event.

“This is important because you need to know there is life after high school, and you don’t have to have that plan as a freshman in high school,” Aman said.

Aman said requiring students to attend the career fair made her feel cared for and supported by her teachers and her school.

“They find it very important to know that there’s life after high school. I feel like some other high schools don’t, and this just shows we have other options. I don’t have to be a nurse. I could be with roof and tile; I could be an EMS. There’s just different things that a lot of people don’t know that you can do,” Aman said.

The career fair was mandatory for seniors, but it provided an opportunity for all students to consider widening their career options – regardless of if they have set-in-stone plans after graduation.

“I think it’s a good experience for me to learn the different jobs, and they all were like very explaining and I want to go into the medical field, so they were all telling me how it could help me, and it was a good experience to learn,” freshman Nitro student Karley Evans said.

Evans said this was the first career fair she has been to, but it allowed her to open her eyes to different routes she could potentially consider.  

“I think it’s good that our school is letting us get the chance to look at it because I know some kids have no clue what they want to do, and this could actually help them route the way when other high schools that don’t have it might be stuck on what to do,” Evans said.  

Kasia Peroy is a sophomore at Nitro High School. While she was not required to attend the career fair, she and other students served coffee, water and treats to assist teachers and staff members in charge of the event.

Peroy said she didn’t have the chance to attend a career fair during her freshman year of high school, but she looks forward to connecting with employers during her later years of high school.

“It really just helps people plan out their future at a younger age because even us now where we didn’t get this job fair, a lot of us are still uncertain on what we want to do past high school or really what college we want to attend,” Peroy said. “So, I think this just helps freshman and younger students know the availability that they have.”

Thursday’s career fair mainly targeted freshmen choosing their future courses and seniors preparing to graduate, and the event featured dozens of employers from all over Putnam and Kanawha counties and beyond.

“I just think it’s really positive that we give back to the students to let them know different options because so many times it just extends beyond the classroom, and I think that’s where relevant learning really occurs is on their next path,” Sallada said. “We call it career quest because they’re off for their next adventure.”