When Sue Boyne first got involved in the Tauranga Careers Expo 12 years ago, she says it was little more than a walk-through of a hall.

"In and out the other door, get stickers, go home."

At this year's event, held on Friday and Saturday at ASB Arena in Mount Maunganui, Virtual Reality (VR) was a hot favourite.

The expo has certainly come a long way from pamphlets and stickers.


"We're trying to produce an event that's relevant for schools, parents and students, and I think, every year, we get closer to achieving that," Boyne said.

She said a big part of the expo's transformation was getting businesses involved so the various industries and careers are represented in an engaging and on-the-ground way.

Interested youngsters can approach local professionals and ask questions and advice.

Boyne, who is the event co-ordinator for the Rotary Club of Tauranga, said the number of attendees through the door on Saturday increased this year to 1100.

The target demographic on the Saturday is parents, who can bring their children along and have meaningful discussions with them about the future.

On the Friday, all local secondary schools visit the expo – about 2500 teenagers in total.

The Tauranga Careers Expo is a joint venture between the Rotary Club of Tauranga and economic development agency Priority One.

Boyne runs it alongside Priority One's Lyn Parlane.


It is a community service event, not a fundraiser, Boyne said.

"It's designed to help our youth."

One of those in attendance on Saturday was 13-year-old Danica Lidgard, a Year 9 student from Papamoa College.

She said her mum suggested they head along and she was all for it.

"It was just a really good experience," Danica said.

A camp programme in the United States caught her eye. It was something she had not thought about before.

But the highlight for her was the VR headset at the University of Waikato stand.

It gave Danica, who wants to be a photographer, a virtual tour of the new university campus in central Tauranga, which opens in February 2019.

"It was really fun going around and looking at all the careers. And especially the headset. When I went on [the headset], I did not expect how cool the uni was going to be. It was really cool."

And it was not just the University of Waikato promoting VR technology, there was even a VR welder taking questions and giving advice at the expo.

The nature of work is certainly changing and the Tauranga Careers Expo is adapting along with it.