350 Tahoe-Truckee high school juniors get taste of the real world
Special to the Sun
KINGS BEACH, Calif. — On March 27, more than 350 juniors from local high schools attended the 2015 Junior Resources Fair at the North Tahoe Event Center.
The daylong event, tag lined “Riding into your Future,” taught students what they need to know to successfully embark on a career, and introduced them to career possibilities in a variety of different fields.
Greg McDougall, Pat Gibbons-Johnson and Holly Verbeck, along with more than 90 volunteers, coordinated the event, now in its eighth year.
McDougall says that while the Tahoe-Truckee and Washoe County school districts do an excellent job preparing kids for college, the private sector and service groups can help local students by providing detailed information on the types of careers available to them, whether they go to college or not.
The Rotary Club of Truckee started the fair, and as it grew, a variety of other organizations joined in as sponsors.
“We try to give them exposure to as much of the different career elements as possible. We want to get their attention and try to keep it,” McDougal says. “With technology changing so rapidly, we need to make them reach for the stars.”
The reality is that students need to reach for the stars because it is a very competitive job market out there.
“There is no free lunch,” McDougall says.
PREPPING FOR THE REAL WORLD
The focus of the fair, Gibbon-Johnson says, is to “give a head start to students by giving a taste of different careers and how to prepare for them.”
“Then we survey the kids each year and get ideas to make it better for the next year,” she said.
Students were instructed to arrive at the event in business attire, as if they were ready to do a job interview.
They were then given information on how to conduct an interview and write a resumé and were provided with a list of items to have when preparing for an interview, including a list of references, a personal photo, business cards, a list of do’s and don’ts, and information on the company they are seeking employment with.
One key point emphasized was for students to clean up their Facebook page and other social media so a potential employer will not be turned off by their shenanigans.
Students were also given the opportunity to network with business owners and representatives to find out what it is like working in a profession.
While it was not a job fair, some of the organizations represented at the March 27 event have internships and starter-jobs that might be available to students, so thus the emphasis on making a good first impression.
Some of the fields represented included auto mechanic, law enforcement, cosmetology, Mechatronics, engineering, translating, marketing, ski resorts, environmental sciences, public utility district, community health and wellness, dietician, education, chef, computer graphics and architecture, marketing, radiology, nursing, scientists, and various other technology fields.
BEYOND THE JOB MARKET
While much of the focus was on career opportunities, the fair also presented information to help students with life issues as well.
Truckee Sierra College Dean Kim Bateman led a session on how students can choose between a two-year or four-year college program.
There was also a session on “Fast Track to Work,” a program designed to provide information on steps to take for those who don’t want to go to college.
“Show me the Money,” meanwhile, focused on financial planning, giving the students the opportunity to learn the important difference between a want and a need.
There was also a “Get me Outta Here” session for students who are not ready for college or a career, and instead want to take a gap year after high school to travel abroad, learn a new language, or decide what they want to do with their life.
In addition, several technology experts led students through a process of understanding the importance of technology, and how they will be using it no matter what sort of career they embark on.
SUCCESS WITH THE STUDENTS
So, did the students appreciate the event? Johnson says that according to the more than 100 student evaluations received, almost all said they enjoyed it, and it exceeded their expectations.
Most students liked the “roaming rooms” the best, where they got to speak to people who could tell them what they actually would be doing if they worked in a particular profession.
“It was really good to see that other options exist, since in high school it’s all about getting into a four-year college,” says North Tahoe High School Junior Erica Backhus.
While Backhus plans on going to a four-year college herself, it was great to learn about all the different professions, and “it was good for a lot of other kids who really have no clue what they want to do after high school.”
As from the Truckee Rotary, other event sponsors this year include the Truckee Sunrise Rotary; the Rotary Club of Tahoe City; and the rotary clubs of Tahoe-Incline and Incline, as well as the Soroptomists, Optimists, Excellence in Education, Northstar Foundation, The Office Boss, Town of Truckee, North Tahoe Event Center, and North Tahoe Public Utility District.
Tim Hauserman, a nearly lifelong resident of Tahoe City, is a freelance author and cross-country ski instructor. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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