Hundreds of students from Whanganui schools will turn their attention to the future at next week's CareerTalks at UCOL's Manawatū campus.
One of the five biggest career expos in the country this year, more than 1200 secondary school students from 22 schools will attend UCOL's largest event next Wednesday.
Students from Whanganui High School, Whanganui City College, Whanganui Girls' College and Cullinane College will be among those attending.
Organised in partnership with Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA), the one-day expo will bring together employers, organisations and study providers from around the country.
Whilst UCOL has hosted campus days in the past, an expo of this size and scale is an entirely new event.
"Within the Manawatū-Whanganui region over the last 18 months there's been a lack of career expos and no ability for our school leavers to have career focused conversations with tertiary providers and employers," UCOL head of marketing and brand Tessa Lyons said.
"It's crucial that we connect with students in our rohe and highlight the study and career pathways available before they leave school, so the team knew we had to step up to fill this space."
Whanganui Girls' College dean Nina Barbezat said expos like these were hugely important in helping students understand what options they had.
"The whole reason we send them to school is so they can get the education they need to get a job or continue their studies and become contributing members of society."
She said having local exhibitors was great because it gave students an idea of specific areas of focus and interest.
It could be a stressful time for students, with many still unsure what they wanted to do, Barbezat said.
"Even if it just sparks something in their mind for something in years to come, that is positive."
She said expos highlighted the broad range of options students had post-high school.
"There are jobs now that weren't around when I left school, and there will be jobs in five years that aren't jobs now. It's just about keeping their minds open."
Lyons said there would be representatives from New Zealand Police, Massey University, New Zealand Defence Force, Palmerston North City Council, Horizons Regional Council, Manawatū District Council, Sport Manawatū, BECA, Higgins, Pūkaha Wildlife Centre and Fisherprint.
Support services like UCOL's Te Mana Tauira, Raukura and Student Success, Workbridge, Volunteer Central, Mana Whaikaha and Ministry of Social Development will also be in attendance, educating students on how they can access support during their study.