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Students face decisions for future

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James Bond, a senior at the Lamar County Center for Technical Education, is pondering his future.

“I’m going to do something with welding,” he said. “If I don’t go straight into the work force, I’ll probably get another certificate in welding.”

With graduation fast approaching, Bond, 19, can’t decide if he wants to earn some money at a job or continue his education at Pearl River Community College.

“(My decision)’s been off and on,” he said.

Like Bond, career technical students around the Pine Belt are considering their options as summer approaches.

But they are in luck, because the career technical high school curriculum supports them in whatever decision they make – whether it be to get a job or continue with more education.

“The majority of our students do go on to community college to continue their training,” said Melissa Graham, counselor at the Lamar County Center for Technical Education. “But for those that aren’t interested in that, each class has a curriculum that involves employability skills.”

Graham said instructors at the center teach students how to write a resume, how to complete a job application and how to conduct themselves in a job interview.

She also conducts mock interviews with students in her office.

“I ask them questions they’re likely to be asked on a job interview – where do you see yourself five years from now, what skills qualify you for this job?” she said. “These are questions the students aren’t used to having to answer about themselves.”

Instructors also keep in contact with people working in their field of expertise.

“They will find out about jobs that are available,” said Graham, who added she usually advises students to continue their education.

“I encourage all of them that the more training you have the better the job opportunities you have and the more money you will make,” she said.

Senior Billy Graves, 20, had been thinking about going into the workforce, but has since changed his mind.

“I’m going for my secondary education,” he said. “I’m just going to go for welding at Pearl River Community College for now.

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