FORT GILLEM, Ga. -- In this economy, it pays to start searching for a job as soon as possible. Select students at two area high schools got a chance to look at potential jobs April 24 at a Fort Gillem-sponsored job fair.

"This is an opportunity to help you grow," Col. Deborah Grays, U.S. Army Garrison commander, told Lamar County High School Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps students and Navy JROTC students from Stephenson High School in DeKalb County. "We want to be a part of the investment in your future."

The students were divided into groups and allowed to mingle with various professionals to learn about their jobs either face-to-face talks or through displays.

The jobs being profiled included the Hapeville Police Department; the Army Criminal Investigation Division; military contracting agencies, such as Dyncor-International and Kellogg Brown and Root; and various civilian agencies on Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem, such as the Training and Support Center, Army Community Services and fire and emergency medical technician response teams.

Grays encouraged the students to learn as much as they could, noting that the day was quickly approaching when they would need to go out on their own.

"We expect great things out of all of you. This will put tools in your kit bag to help you make great decisions," she said.

Another advantage of the job fair was that it allowed students to see opportunities they may have never thought about before, said Master Sgt. Kelly Arlene, an Army JROTC instructor at Lamar.

"Some of the kids don't get to see people or experience things on a day-to-day basis outside Lamar County," she said. "This lets them see what is out there other than what is at their fingertips."

Though some of the job opportunities may not have been known to the students, several presenters, including TASC TV production specialist Seth McDougal, encouraged the students to take chances.

"Try several things. Even if you master something, be willing to try something else," he said. But above all, he told students, the key to success could be summed up in seven words.

"Make sure you love what you do."