By Lindsey Turnbull
Year 11 John Gray High School students were given the opportunity to see for themselves the broad choice of jobs available once they leave school at their annual Careers Fair, falling at the end of Careers Week, which saw companies come and talk with students about what their business did, as well as conduct mock interviews to give students some grounding on interview technique and etiquette.
Organiser Tanya Johnson, Careers Advisor with the Career Services Department, said she was pleased with the turnout, given Covid-19 restrictions.
“We thought we wouldn’t have so much participation this year, but we’ve got close to between 40 and 50 companies, which is awesome,” she advised. “I really appreciate them coming. I hope the students see that there are so many different options out there, because everybody is focusing on being a lawyer or an accountant, but there are so many other jobs here in Cayman.”
Fifteen-year-old Jenika Taylor was searching for a job or internship within the hospitality industry while Jada Walters, also 15, was looking for an internship in science or opportunities within the field of nursing, as she wanted to be a psychologist. Fifteen-year-old student Anaya Morgan said she wanted to be an accountant so she was looking to find an internship or scholarship. She had spoken with the Ogier team, the Cayman Islands Institute of Professional Accountants and also the National Gallery for volunteering.
Former Principle of George Town Primary School Ms Marie Martin did not mince her words when giving her views as to the importance of such events:
“I’m here to talk with the students and see what their career paths are like,” she stated. “Hopefully, the majority of them are on the right track and that they have someone there who is guiding them in their future careers, because that is a great weakness in our schools. Our students lack career guidance. We have far too many young people, and this is coming from the career officers, that all want to be doctors and that just can’t happen, so we need our students to be directed along the right path for future success.”
Maeve Greer and James Dudley were from Red Sails Sports and had participated in the school’s Career Week, talking to the students and conducting mock interviews.
Mr Dudley said they really wanted the young people to come and experience what Red Sail had to offer, with a view to having more young Caymanians come into the watersports and tourism industry which, he said, sadly to date, had been limited.
“A lot of Caymanians get blind-sided by money working in banking institutions or finance and we would really like to see more Caymanians in the industry,” he confirmed. “When we do summer internships, we have young Caymanians, they are always excellent people to have around and it’s noted by the guests. In past years when guests have come from all parts of the world, they are very impressed to see us introducing young Caymanians to the watersports industry. They talk really highly of them.”
Law firm Ogier takes part in the Career Fair each year. Emma Graham-Taylor, the firm’s HR Manager and Local Practice Manager, said the event was a good way to connect with students and inform them that law firms didn’t just employ lawyers.
“The last two days we’ve been doing mock interviews with the students which has been a really eye-opening experience for both us and them. Today were seeing a lot of those same students come and talk to us about internships,” she advised. “It’s a good chance for us to say there’s business services within a law firm, with IT, marketing, finance and operations, so, as a student from John Gray, you don’t need a law degree to come and work in a law firm.”
Two-week paid internships for Caymanian students held over the summer helped interested students appreciate these different departments within the law firm, she added.
HR Intern with CUC, Ashanti Hudson, was currently three months into a four-month internship with the company. She had found a good uptake of interest at the Fair.
“Students are mostly interested in our apprenticeship and summer intern programmes,” she advised. “Our vocational programme is mostly for students from 15 to 18 and then we have an internship programme for those aged 18 onwards, mostly for those at college who already have their majors sorted out. The vocational programme for the younger students is for those trying to get some experience and find which job they would like to have in the future.”
Cayman was having a tough time with employment, so such programmes were important to expose young people, to give them an idea of future career choices, she confirmed.