For some people, their first job involves serving up fast food or ringing up purchases on a register. Administrators at Valley Central High School hope that their students will have the ability to start their career with opportunities that include more mobility and higher salaries than typical entry-level jobs. On March 30, students at VCHS learned about local job options during the school’s inaugural Career Opportunity Fair.
Representatives from local companies, unions and trades set up booths in the school’s front lobby and discussed career opportunities and training programs at their organizations with students.
“We wanted to create an event for students who may be unsure of their plans after high school,” Erin Kafka, a school guidance counselor at VCHS said. “We wanted to include companies, union opportunities, manufacturing and trade positions – opportunities that are more than minimum wage and have benefits.”
Ms. Kafka helped prepare students with in-class presentations and a resume-writing workshop prior to the Fair. Students were given a page of conversation-starters to use while interacting with the representatives, such as “What does a typical day look like in this career?” or “What does your company consider the five most important qualities in an employee?” She also took time to roleplay questions and answers with some nervous students, having them walking away feeling more confident to network with the representatives.
“A lot of the students are asking about what jobs we have available and if we are looking for part-time summer help,” Christopher Lee, sales manager at Johnston’s Subaru in Middletown said. “We’ve been talking to them about all the different positions that make up a car dealership – we have IT positions, business development positions, an internet department, secretarial positions – it’s much more than just sales.”
Nora Andrew, an employee of C&S Wholesale Grocers in Newburgh spoke to students about the company’s flexible schedule options for full-time college students and about the company’s tuition reimbursement for full-time associates who have been employed over the year.
“Not only does it help employee morale and retention, it also helps our employees become the best they can be,” Ms. Andrew said.
“The Career Opportunity Fair is helping students practice their soft-skills, make connections and become aware of the opportunities that they have right here in the area,” Ms. Kafka said. “We hope to expand and grow the fair next year.”
“I plan to go to Orange County Community College and [working for one of these companies] will give me more valuable experience as opposed to ringing a register,” VCHS senior David Stanley said. “It’s an opportunity to broaden your horizons.”