By day, Jim Babson can be found managing the Carolina Mini Storage facility on Wendell Boulevard.
On the side, though, the three-year Wendell resident oversees a separate operation – a website housing informational videos for students, educators and adults alike, to utilize as career exploration resources.
It’s a suitable venture for a man who has held jobs in several different lines of work, including online marketing, sales and radio. Babson’s experiences along his own varied career path were, as he put it, 100 percent what prompted him to launch uscareersonline.com in November, 2015.
“The purpose (of the website) is to bring awareness to the various careers that could make a difference in the life of an individual,” Babson said. “It’s about not knowing the direction exactly of where your path will go in life. It happens when we have people who don’t have a path of where they want to go in life in terms of a career, and a video, a four-minute video, could make a difference in that.”
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Babson said the website got rolling after he pitched the idea to state legislators and it was suggested that he do something to promote the tourism and agriculture industries.
That led to the creation of videos on tourism, filmed in Mount Airy, in farming, shot in the Beaufort County town of Pantego. Babson called on Kim Brame, a friend he met in a previous job at BellSouth, and her ci Productions company to produce the videos for the site.
“The problem he had was finding a video producer who would invest a whole lot of their own time in it,” said Brame, who lives near Wake Forest. “He told me about it, I loved the concept of it, and we agreed it was something that was worth becoming involved in.”
The videos are three to four minutes in length, offering perspectives from students pursuing careers and from professionals in the field. Most are for careers that require certification programs or associate degrees.
They also play to the benefit of a wide range of people and organizations.
They appeal to grade school and college students, and to adults looking to re-enter or reposition themselves in the workforce. Teachers at all levels can use the videos to provide students with a snapshot of a career they may be interested in.
Companies and organizations benefit, too, sponsoring some of the cost of producing the videos in exchange for a chance to plug their respective industries.
“The entities pay a fraction of the retail cost of producing the videos,” Brame said. “It’s solely because we think we’re making an investment in the future of our state.”
Hopeful for local
The website currently has 10 videos on careers including certified nursing assistant, health information technology, automotive, commercial driving, medical laboratory technology, dental assistant, welding and construction.
Fourteen more are in the works, including entrepreneurship, bookkeeping, EMS/EMT, firefighting, business for artists, coding and adult college prep.
Most of the career videos, however, have been initiated out of state, by the University of New Mexico at Gallup. Both Babson and Brame are hoping to see that change – hoping to break through the formula the local academic arena has traditionally followed to promote their programs.
“This is matter not of, ‘Do we need to.’ This is a matter of, ‘We must.’ We’ve got to get a better workforce trained,” Babson said. “This is the bridge to getting more people involved to get the skills needed to get the jobs to grow the economy. That’s what it is all about.”