TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) – The eighth-annual Worlds of Work (WOW) Career Expo returns in-person since 2019 and brings numerous industry leaders and education partners together again.

The career event is drawing over 4,000 high school students from West Alabama to Shelton State Community College, giving them the opportunity to talk one-on-one with industry leaders and prepare for their careers. WOW kicked off Thursday at 9 a.m., with ninth graders from across the region visiting until 1 p.m.

Kaylee Shaw is a ninth-grade student from American Christian Academy. She wants to go to college after high school and become a television sports reporter. Shaw says the WOW expo is a great event.

“I think it’s very good we get to see all the different options and to experiment with the ones we like or don’t like and that can affect us and then also to see what kind of skills we would need to be able to accomplish each job,” Shaw said.

Donny Jones of the Executive Director of West Alabama Works. He says this event can help so many young people find good jobs down the road.

“Most students don’t really understand the jobs we have in West Alabama and WOW is all about connecting those dots,” Jones said. “[We have] hundreds of employers and activities for the kids to help them connect to the different career pathways.”

Employers attending WOW come from a variety of fields, such as agriculture, construction, cosmetology, education, energy and utilities, engineering and environment, healthcare, hospitality and tourism, manufacturing/automotive/logistics, public safety and transportation.

The two day event concludes on Friday.