01/12/11 — Businesses sought for middle school career fair

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Businesses sought for middle school career fair

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 12, 2011 1:46 PM

Lori Dubose, organizer of next month's middle school career fair, is envisioning a gymnasium packed with area business representatives so that seventh-graders can get a sense of the future job possibilities in Wayne County.

"Last year I know we had over 60 businesses represented, so we definitely would like to see more than that," she said. "I would love to see 80 to 100, and we have the space to do that."

An estimated 1,400 students are expected to attend the second annual event, sponsored by Wayne Education Network, on Feb. 15 and 16 at the Family YMCA.

Since they are the area's future work force, it is imperative that business and industry turns out to welcome them, she said.

"These kids get fascinated by the simplest of things. They are seventh-graders and this can really define where they go," said Janet Brock of the Chamber of Commerce. "Veterinarians and business individuals, financial advisors, people in the business industry. We need attorneys, doctors, nurses, chiropractors, hairdressers, nail technicians, reporters, graphic designers, home builders, Realtors -- these are people that make our community strong."

Guidance counselors in the school system have already been working with students on determining career planning and areas of interest. That will help when they arrive to the career fair and have a chance to visit the different booths.

The more variety of areas covered, the better, Ms. Dubose said.

"Businesses that have human resources, it's a great way to be represented because they can tell how many different careers are needed in their business," she said. "A lot of times you get the obvious front-line people. The HR people would be a great way to represent their business and tell the kids just how many possibilities are available in their line of business."

Career fairs typically cater to an older demographic -- high school and college being the youngest audience, she noted, so targeting seventh-graders creates a unique scenario.

"This is going to be different in that we have got to relate to the children on a level that they're going to get excited," she said. "It needs to be explained in a very short amount of time with enthusiasm, and just help them see the possibilities and get excited about it.

"It's not necessary to promote the business by name but rather the career that runs the business or that fills each position. When they decide to follow a certain career track, these are the possibilities that that career track can take you into."

For businesses or industry in need of supplemental support, Ms. Dubose said that will be provided.

"We can help give them some ideas, help them be creative, help them with displays," she said. "I just encourage them if they're at all entertained by the idea of being present but have questions, give us a call and let us explain about things because we can help give them ideas of how to represent their business."

This year's event is being spread over two days -- from 8:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 15, and from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 16.

But for those businesses where it would be a hardship to commit for that amount of time, there are other options, including staggered schedules or dividing up similar types of businesses on alternate days.

"We would absolutely love for them to be present both days, but even if they could only attend for a half day, we would be happy for that to be the case," Ms. Dubose said. "We just want to make sure that each day the children that come get a full day of businesses represented. We want to make sure that the very last kids that walk through get the same experience as the first ones."

For a complete list of guidelines or more information, area businesses are invited to contact Ms. Brock at the Chamber, 734-2241 or e-mail janeb@waynecounty chamber.com.