Area high school students got a chance to weigh their future career options recently at the Ardmore Convention Center for Oklahoma Career Exposure Week.

Partners in Education director Cynthia Pickens said the event was a success, with roughly 350 high school juniors from Ardmore, Plainview, Lone Grove and Springer attending. 

“It was awesome,” Pickens said. “They all had questions, they were all attentive, and the young people all said they were looking forward to doing it again.” 

Representatives from Mercy Hospital, Valero Ardmore Refinery, Southern Tech, Chick Fil A, Michelin, Courtyard Marriott, and the Chickasaw Nation gave presentations and let the students ask questions about their respective fields.  

Pickens said the students had a lot of interest in summer programs, summer internships and summer jobs as well as opportunities to shadow professionals on the job to get a better idea of what their work entails. 

“This was the start of something,” Pickens said. “We’re holding another career fair in February, and I already have a feeling it’s going to be better.”  

Pickens said the event was more about giving students a chance to start thinking about their futures and less about locking them into one particular career path. 

“They were very encouraged,” Pickens said. “Some of the younger people, engineers from Valero and people from Mercy, were able to relate to the kids more. They all said they’d all started out doing something else and changed majors or changed jobs.” 

Partners in Educations is an Ardmore Chamber of Commerce initiative aimed at getting area students prepared for school, college and the work force.

Pickens said the group’s next step is to introduce early childhood programs to help area kids who are just starting school.   

“That’s my goal this year,” Pickens said. “We’ve got to start early if we’re going to compete with the more metropolitan areas. We’re here to help them, no matter where they come from or where they’re going.”