Let me start by saying that never in my 25 years did I expect to utter those words before the age of 85. I have grand plans of being a cool old lady; referring to people under 18 as “those kids” screams, “Get off my lawn!” not, “Here’s an extra $20 for gas.” But I digress.

I had the opportunity this month to set up a Get On The Grid booth at a vocational fair in Leakesville Junior High School. As I drove the final 31 miles behind a chicken trailer down two-lane Highway 98, I told myself that while it was possible none of the kids would pay attention to me, I definitely had the best candy. I don’t know a single 14-year-old who can refuse a Snickers, so perhaps I could sneak in career information between bites and no one would be the wiser.

But I’m here to tell you, ladies and gents, kids these days… are bright, engaging, and already planning their futures. In a chaotic gymnasium full of athletic hoodies and raging hormones, my table was full of kids pumping me for information.


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Two Greene County students signing up to receive more information on Get on the Grid.

“What is Get On The Grid?”

“My cousin is a welder on the coast. I’ve been thinking getting into that, too.”

“Can I make money if I don’t go to college?”

“Do you have something I can look at later when I get home?”

Of course, you have the occasional interaction with a confused student. One guy asked where I worked, and before I could finish, “Mississippi Energy Institute,” he turned and yelled across the gym at his friend. “Hey bro! This lady says she does energy. Maybe you could talk to her and lose some weight!” I hid behind my laptop and explained, “That’s not exactly the same kind of energy.” The poor guy looked genuinely defeated and said, “Oh. Well I didn’t know, he’s just my friend and he’s always talking about how he wants to be skinny. I just wanted to help.” Bless his heart. May we all have friends who care for our well-being, and may they never shout our deepest fears across a crowded gym.

By the end of the morning, I was able to walk over 100 students through the website. They were genuinely intrigued, especially by the videos and salary information, and almost all asked for more information. We were also listed as “Most Interesting Booth” on several survey sheets. That part may actually have been the Snickers, but I like to think not.

Moral of the story: kids these days are acutely aware of the world around them. They take in career information like sponges, and resources like Get On The Grid spark their very visual minds. Invested educators are taking advantage of resources like Get On The Grid to prove to their students that professional career possibilities are right in their home state—even in their own backyards.

A special thanks to Dawn Wallace and Dr. Tom Wallace for inviting MEI to participate in their wildly successful career day and to educators across the state who are just as invested in the futures of their students. If you would like to bring Get On The Grid to a school or career fair near you, contact me at mgunn@mei.ms or (601) 351-9891. I can’t wait to get to know your students and to work with you to build the next generation of successful Mississippians.