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Career Summit hosts variety of messages about professions
Russell Dye of Ocean Atlantic Land Investment speaks about the different types of careers in real estate. Students spent the day listening to various area professionals talk about their careers and what it takes to reach their career goals.

Speakers from the public, private and institutional sectors at Tuesday’s Career Success Day used different methods to share their messages.

Some were armed with laptops and talking points, but one brought home his career insight through lyrical rap.

Hosted by Junior Achievement of Georgia, Flowery Branch High School held its 2014 Career Summit, offering students a glimpse into 27 different professions with experience shared by Northeast Georgia community leaders.

“This is a great opportunity for these students to learn valuable skills that they will need as they seek jobs and begin to make their way in the real world,” said Lee Highsmith, director for JA’s Gainesville district.

Phil Bonelli, Wells Fargo’s vice president of business banking in Gainesville, translated his message through rhythm and rhyme.

“I did a little trick,” Bonelli said. “I asked a couple of them what they want to do,” and then the corporate executive weaved wisdom into verse, illustrating the cultivation of personal connections as a communication strategy.

Bonelli did suggest that perhaps being under age 30 may have given his offbeat technique slightly more credibility.

“That’s what I like to talk to them about. Yes, (communication) is absolutely critical for career; but (also) critical for life ... to listen, comprehend and verbalize,” he said.

Throughout the day, students deviated from their normal schedule, selecting speakers whose careers piqued their curiosity, settling in for 40-50 minute presentations, which could earn them a grade.

“It’s kind of like an educational career buffet,” said Flowery Branch High marketing and advertising instructor Richard Darracott.

Wanda O’Kelley teaches mixed business classes of 9th- through 12th-graders at the school, mainly on interactive media, including Web design. O’Kelley is one of the organizers of the Career Summit.

O’Kelley’s guest was marketing and Web development professional Zach Abernathy of Red Clay Interactive.

“They were very inquisitive,” said O’Kelley of her students’ response to Abernathy’s talks. Many students who have heard him speak before made a point to sign up to hear him again, she said.

“He is wonderful,” said O’Kelley, for his willingness to share the latest trends.

Despite its logistical challenges, O’Kelley said, “From the other teachers, (it) was a good day all around.”

“I just enjoy sharing different knowledge and experiences with (students),” said Bonelli. “It’s a blessing to be able to so. ... You hear about the quote, unquote ‘bad’ kids. ... They all have really great potential; I’m just glad to live in a place where we have Junior Achievement.”