Ask a 5-year-old child what they want to be when they grow up and you are likely to hear whatever job their parents do in response. A child can only choose from the options to which they've been exposed.
By the time that same student reaches high school, ask them again about their future.
Most will have more options to choose from, but few will have chosen.
This past week, Payson High School hosted a career fair to help with the decision making process.
The most popular booths at the fair were those manned by military recruiters.
"I feel that there has always been a calling for young men and women who want to make a difference," said Sgt. Mark Cocova, who spent seven years in the U.S. Navy and is currently a recruiter for the U. S. Marine Corps.
The armed forces were well represented at the career fair. Sandy Somsen, a counselor at PHS, estimated that 10 percent of the school's graduates go on to service in the military.
"We have over 300 different jobs available -- everything from aviation mechanics to infantry to computer technology," Cocova said.
Potential recruits for any branch of the military must take the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) series of tests measuring skills in eight areas including arithmetic reasoning and general science.
A score between 50 and 99 on the ASVAB test is what really opens up job opportunities, Cocova said.
But the military was far from the only career opportunity offered to students for exploration as more than 30 business, colleges and individuals both local and out of state shared their professions.
"Fashion is the largest business in the U.S. in terms of careers and it is very competitive," Julie Ott, representing the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, told students.
For senior Heather Buchanan that competition leaves her undaunted in pursuit of her dream. Buchanan is interested in a career in costume design. Her drama classes allow her to get a taste of this profession.
Jim Mentzer, an intern at Messinger Payson Funeral Home, said many students would approach the table then walk away when they saw what business it was.
"There were a handful that had sincere interest," Mentzer said. Those were steered to science courses in school and mortuary college to pursue their degree.
"I am looking into sports broadcasting," said Brooke Cannon, a senior. "I am athletic and I love sports and I love being behind the camera."
Sophomore Laughlan Potvin said she is still exploring but is interested in science, chemistry in particular, because it is really fun and I like figuring things out."
Jen Sandoval and Jessie Carpino stopped by to talk with Northern Arizona University's internship coordinator Suzanne Wood to talk about the college's hotel and restaurant management program.
Sandoval's dream is to one day open a bed and breakfast "somewhere scenic and green." Carpino said because she likes working with people she is interested in the service industry in general.
Wood recommended home economics classes (known as family and consumer sciences classes at PHS) and any job dealing with people in preparation for college course in the hotel and restaurant industry.