It’s never too early to start thinking about what you want to do when you grow up.
Although he physically looked up to everyone around him, that didn’t stop 7-year-old Kohen Orth from running with the big dogs at a trades career fair — which was technically geared toward high schoolers — on Tuesday.
Dressed in an orange-and-green Roadrunner Little League jersey and accompanied by his father, the first-grader spent his morning trying his hand at all sorts of jobs. That included administering CPR to practice dummies, which he liked because it let him “save people.”
That instinct is bound to serve Orth, given the career path he’s already got his sights set on.
“I want to be a firefighter,” Orth said. “My dad’s a firefighter.”
More than 600 high schoolers from all over — Estancia, Los Lunas, Albuquerque, Rio Rancho — showed up to the fair to learn about “necessary positions that we need to fill,” Department of Workforce Solutions Youth Engagement Coordinator Rebecca Sisneros said.
The inaugural fair, put on by the Albuquerque Public Schools Education Foundation and DWS, hosted some 40 potential employers of trade industries at the district’s professional development center on Louisiana NE.
“Exposing students to the trades has been historically underserved, even though it’s a really promising path after high school,” said Erica Ho, a La Cueva High School senior who helped organize the event. “Hopefully, this will be a recurring event where this opportunity can be provided for students over and over again.”
Represented at the fair were carpenters, plumbers, first responders and other professionals, for whom the fair presented ample opportunities to scout for potential talent.
“We can plant the seed now, hopefully for it to sprout and grow and offer opportunities that they may not be aware of,” third-generation carpenter Matthew Suarez said.
But the fair wasn’t just a room full of soapboxes for adults to lecture high schoolers from. Students seemed to have fun with the live demonstrations, racing each other in drilling competitions or going toe-to-toe over who could saw wood the best.
“He has the speed, but I had the accuracy and precision,” La Cueva senior Julian Hugg boasted, after a heated sawing skills challenge at the carpentry booth with fellow senior Seth Williams.
Hugg added that he came to the fair to explore his options after the military.
“A lot of the stuff that they’ve done here, I’ve done domestically in my own household,” he said. “I wanted to see if I could use what I already know and turn that into (a) … career, something that could support me and possibly a family.”