SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WNCN) — Thousands of Johnston County middle school students are taking part in the “JoCo Works” career fair to get an idea of what kind of job they might like in the future.

Eighth-grade students are spending a couple of hours walking around the Johnston Community College parking lot and talking to people from a variety of careers to see what interests them. Employers set up hands-on activities to draw students in and each group can stop by and ask questions.

The fair is a partnership between county schools, the community college, and the Triangle East Chamber of Commerce to help students plan for their future.

“Eighth grade is a pivotal time for our students to get a sense of what’s available because that’s going to impact the decisions they make while they’re in high school, what courses they take,” said Reno Palombit, director of Career and Technical Education for Johnston County Public Schools.

Bailey Baltimore, a student at Archer’s Lodge Middle School, is one of more than 3,000 students participating in this two-day fair. While she’s interested in becoming a police officer or a nurse in the future, Bailey sayid she’s keeping her options open and talking to as many employers as possible.

“I feel like it’s important to look at all the careers instead of boxing yourself into one specific place,” Baltimore said.

More than 40 businesses and agencies are participating in this event.