By Dave Ongie, Managing Editor
When Lottie Ryans and the rest of the leadership at First Tennessee Development District were forced to cancel the 2020 CareerQuest event and forego plans to hold the event in person in 2021, there was some concern as to whether the event would emerge on the other side of the pandemic.
On May 12 and 13, however, CareerQuest roared back to life inside the MiniDome on the campus of ETSU. Businesses, volunteers and students flocked back to the floor of the dome to connect in discussions about possibilities that exist across the entire spectrum of our regional economy. Ryans said around 4,800 high school and middle school students registered for the event.
A renewed push to educate students about the great opportunities that exist in the trades was evident at this year’s event.
“When I started in 2016, there wasn’t really the focus or the pathways for students to be able to have some of those dual enrollment programs or for students and parents to understand welders make really good money,” Ryans said. “Technical work is really coming to the forefront the way it should. All jobs have value, all work has value, and this showcases that.”
A hallmark of the CareerQuest event has always been showcasing employment opportunities for students who want to get to work right after high school, those who are interested in becoming doctors, and all points in between.
Dr. Steve Barnett, superintendent of the Johnson City school system, said the event was very useful for the students in his school district.
“There are a lot of opportunities for students to look at a lot of different possible career choices where they could make a good living, and in some cases a great living,” Barnett said. “It’s a great event to have every year, and I’m glad they were able to bring it back.”