Career Day 2023 set records on Tuesday, Nov. 7, with 60 presenters volunteering to share their professional stories with NRCA high school students. The all-day event brought parents, alumni, and community members to NRCA to speak about their careers. Many shared stories about their personal journey into their profession.
“Career Day is an opportunity for students to learn more in-depth about professions they have their sights set on as well as to explore careers that they may not have previously known about,” said Susan Etheridge, NRCA’s Director of Academic Advising.
Careers represented included the following: sales, law, healthcare, healthcare administration, filmmaking, missions, pastoral ministry, cybersecurity, sports technology, software engineering, real estate, computer science, forensic neuropsychology, art therapy, supply chain management, construction, event technology, human resources, computer engineering, military, counseling, project management, life coaching, financial advising, graphic design, communications, veterinary medicine, publishing, law enforcement, information technology, pharmaceuticals, and entrepreneurship.
Students packed classrooms to learn about different professions in eight 30-minute sessions. At the end of the day, they filed into the Sherrill Center for the Performing Arts to hear keynote speaker Dr. Kerr Ramsay, Senior Vice President for Undergraduate Admissions at High Point University. Ramsay talked about “Life Skills,” the essential skills students need to prepare for success in college and the job market.
Career Day’s success was largely due to the NRCA community’s support. Current parents, alumni, alumni parents, and members of the NRCA network donated their time and skills to share at the event.
“I’m a parent to two elementary school children here, but I have actually participated in [Career Day] since my oldest, who's now in fifth grade, was in kindergarten,” said Leanne Minnick, who works as a physician associate at Raleigh Medical Group. “I have always enjoyed talking to teenagers. I was a teacher before I went back to PA school, and I taught high school for three years. So, I’ve always enjoyed getting the opportunity to engage with them. I felt like it’s a great opportunity to tell them about a really good career path and to just encourage them along the way.”
Minnick enjoyed the energy of the high school students and appreciated the variety of questions. “Some were really good, like, ‘How can you change from one specialty to another in your career?' which is one of the benefits of being a physician associate. You have that flexibility because you’re a general practitioner. So, good questions, thoughtful questions,” Minnick said.
Donna King, editor of Carolina Journal, is a parent of an NRCA senior and two alumni. “All three of my kids have come through NRCA, and I felt like they were so prepared for college and so prepared for the job market,” King said. “I feel like Career Day is one of those things where kids can hear about different options from people who are really in it, and it helps them decide where they might want to go to college to pursue the degrees that lead up to careers that are fun and fulfilling and that give back to their community.”
King graduated from NC State and has been in journalism for 25 years. Her experience allowed her to share the changes her profession has seen. “I started in print and television, but everything is moving toward digital and smaller sound bites. Everybody has to be a one-man band. Everybody has to be able to do video and be able to write. And those things have changed so much that I want to make sure that the next generation is more prepared than I was for these changes,” King said.
Many paths lead to jobs in journalism, King explained. “I think the biggest thing about journalism is that you don’t have to be a journalism major. I really think that majoring in things like public policy or video production or history or economics—all these things really translate well into journalism because you have to have a basic foundation. But you should always take news writing classes if it’s something you think you want to do because writing for news is very different than writing for anything else.”
Alumni returned to NRCA to share their experiences in an array of professions. Will Ray, Class of 2004, works with Christian business owners and entrepreneurs through an organization called C12.
“I was excited to talk about entrepreneurship with the students today,” Ray said. “I wanted to get across to them that entrepreneurship, or small business ownership, represents maybe the best opportunity that they have in their career for maximum positive impact and maximum money-making potential. When I talk with most folks, those are two of the main things that they care about in their career—young people especially. It’s making money and having a positive impact. And entrepreneurship represents arguably the best opportunity to do both of those things.”
Ray’s personal experience in entrepreneurship came when his wife, Nancy (Class of 2005), started what blossomed into a highly successful photography company. “And so that got us into really enjoying starting things, building things, growing things, and it showed us some of the opportunity that [entrepreneurship] represents,” he said.
One of the key lessons Ray emphasizes is the ministry aspect of small business ownership. “You can have a really significant impact through the vehicle of business, and that’s what I talk about all the time now,” Ray said. “I discovered along the way that there’s not a divide between sacred work and secular work—that for the believer, for the Christian who is living out their calling as unto the Lord, their work is holy, just like vocational ministry work. C12 has helped me understand that better.”
NRCA teachers, staff, and the Student Leadership Academy played an active role in hosting the event. Etheridge received positive feedback from the guest speakers. “Presenters especially appreciated the hospitality and kindness of NRCA staff and students as they were greeted warmly and walked to their classrooms by members of the NRCA Student Leadership Academy. Many commented on the helpfulness of host teachers and the positive engagement of the high school students during their sessions,” she said.