Has someone ever asked you, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Or have you said these words to your children before? The concept of a career can be overwhelming, but it’s even more complicated if you have yet to learn what’s out there.
Allison Keen, CED, Extension educator, 4-H Youth Development for Purdue Extension — Jay County, knew this was a potential weak point for our local kids and thought a career fair would help them plan their futures. She contacted Jay County REMC and several other community partners to help bring the idea to life.
Meeting once a month, representatives from Purdue Extension, Jay County Public Library, IU Health, Jay County Christian Academy, Jay County REMC, Jay County Chamber of Commerce, Jay County Development Corporation, Farm Bureau, Jay County Farm Bureau, Medler’s Furniture, and Jay County Junior-Senior High School worked together as a team to flesh out and create the first annual Jay County Career Fair.
A representative from each field was responsible for creating a list of businesses in their industry to invite as vendors. By partnering with Jay County Junior-Senior High School, fair organizers could dial in on the details that made the most sense. For example, the school helped the organizers pinpoint that 8th grade was the sweet spot for this experience. Since 8th grade is the year before students enter high school, it’s the perfect time for them to consider career paths they may want to pursue.
The school also allowed organizers to hold the event in its auxiliary gym, eliminating the need to transport the Jay County students to another location. This venue also allowed students from all grades to visit the fair throughout the day since anyone can benefit from an opportunity like this if they are still determining what their future holds.
Besides the students from JCJSHS, 8th graders from Blackford County and the Jay County Christian Academy also attended the afternoon portion of the fair. It is important that students know that there are career options nearby that would allow them to grow their roots locally.
The career fair partners hope the event will be an annual experience that will guide students and allow employers to meet potential apprentices, interns, and employees. These connections and networking opportunities can be invaluable to everyone who attends.
At this year’s fair, there were over 60 vendor booths represented and at least 100 people in attendance showcasing multiple professions. If you were not a part of the first career fair but would like to attend in the future, contact Allison Keen at firstname.lastname@example.org.