Lycée Guebre-Mariam high school students take a peek into the professional world

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Ruth Brook

Ethiopia’s French international school, Lycée Guebre-Mariam, bridged the gap between students and professionals at their annual career fair this past Wednesday, on the 15th of January 2020.

Held on the vast campus in the heart of Addis Ababa, the event was organized outdoors on the school’s stadium, with each professional under a tent waiting for the influx of students and their queries. The career fair is part of an Orientation Course organized by the school for students from grades 9 to 12. The intention is to prepare them for the pursuit of their post-baccalaureate studies and for their future careers. Students were encouraged to approach professionals and inquire about their fields of interest; they were also supplied with a printed list of questions.

“We didn’t want to give the students all the information; we want them to come and ask to have the information, it’s very important that the students can move around,” said Coralie Alexandrenne, a teacher at Lycée and one of the event organizers.

63 participating professionals from 16 different departments received almost 400 students throughout the day. The departments represented were Information Technology, Journalism, Art and Design, Tourism and Hotel industry, Medicine, Teaching, Communications, Sport, Human Rights, The Army and Defense, Commerce, Business, Engineering and Aeronautics, Architecture and Diplomacy.

“In two years we have to choose which university we are going to go to. So meeting professionals, meeting people that have gone through these fields and have these experiences and listening to them speak, guides us if we are unsure,” said Amran Teferi, a grade 10 student at Lycée Guebre-Mariam.

“It gives us a path to our future,” reiterated Markeza Daniel, fellow grade 10 student.

In previous years, the career fair was held indoors under a different format, professionals were assigned classrooms and students were given a timetable indicating which classroom to attend and the time they should do so. This year’s makeover was in part due to the student’s feedback, students wanted the freedom to choose which vocations they would visit. The new informal setting allowed students to do exactly that and gave a noticeable atmosphere of ease, said Coralie.

“I have been doing this event for the last five years,” said Gizeshwork Tessema one of the professionals participating in the career fair and a parent to a Lycée student. As an entrepreneur, Gizeshwork said she received a lot of questions on how she got to where she is in her career.

“The kids really want direction in deciding which field to choose. I am an entrepreneur and I noticed that they really wanted to know the ins and outs of this career,” she continued.

The fair took up the entire Wednesday afternoon, from 1pm to 5pm, with students swarming to and from tents with their notepads and pens. One tent which saw a perpetual swarm of students throughout the day was the Aeronautics tent, with first officers from Ethiopian Airlines present in their uniform, ready to answer questions.

“This event is really beneficial, I wish we could have had this kind of experience when we were students,” said Ethiopian Airlines First Officer Efrem.  

Along with questions on how he chose this career path and the required subjects to pursue a career in aeronautics, he was surprised to learn that the majority of students were curious about salaries.

The career fair is one of the many efforts made by the staff and school board to prepare their high school students for their professional future. Students in the 9th grade are afforded the opportunity to take a one week internship at a professional institute to provide them with work experience. Furthermore, 10th grade students are given the chance to visit universities in Paris to give them an idea of the university experience, Coralie explained.

“It’s very important to us that the students are active in what they are doing in the future.”