Austin Sarafinchen and April Graetz, Grade 10 students from Frank Maddock High School in Drayton Valley, were two of the 4,000 Central Alberta high school students attending the eighth CAREERexpo at Red Deer College Thursday. (Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff)

WATCH: Thousands of high school students visit Red Deer College for CAREERexpo

The eighth annual CAREERexpo was held at RDC Thursday

About 4,000 high school students from Central Alberta filled the hallways of Red Deer College to learn about potential careers.

CAREERS: The Next Generation hosted the annual CAREERexpo at RDC Thursday.

Joel Ward, RDC president, said the expo is great for students contemplating what they want to do after high school.

“Students have an opportunity to ask questions, to play with some stuff, to touch some stuff and to see some things being built, created, innovated,” said Ward.

Students get a taste of what it’s like to attend RDC at the expo, Ward said.

“They wander the halls, they get a Starbucks or Timmies, they take a look at different career options, they talk to some really interesting people.

“They’re like kids in a candy store. It’s a really great opportunity for them to explore what some of their interests might be,” he said.

The expo has been held at RDC for the last eight years – it was held at Westerner Park for a few years before coming to RDC.

In its first year, about 400 students attended the expo and now 4,000 students attend each year.

“With more students, comes more exhibitors,” said Ward. “There’s such a wide variety of booths and opportunities for students to explore.”

Holly Bilton, CAREERS: The Next Generation central regional director, said RDC is a perfect partner for the event.

Central Alberta high schools “can’t reproduce this in their facilities and they also get the college experience,” she said. “One of the major reasons we partner with Red Deer College on this is so we can have the high school students come into a college environment and not be so nervous about it.”

Forty-eight schools from eight divisions across Central Alberta attended the event.

Every year, CAREERS: The Next Generation does a gap analysis to determine what occupations need better representation at the expo.

“We want to make sure that health care is represented, that engineering is represented and that all sorts of occupations are represented.

“We want every single one of those students to find one or two or three things that really speak to them,” said Bilton.

Bilton said she is excited for next year when the college’s alternative energy lab opens.

“We’ll want to showcase some of the amazing occupations in alternative energy and of course with the college starting to go into university status, just think of the other things we can showcase as well. That’ll bring us some great new stuff,” she said.

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