Career Fair introduces TF South students to job possibilities

More than 60 businesses spent the morning answering questions about work, life, and industry trends

photos and text by Melanie Jongsma

LANSING, Ill. (February 28, 2018) – Susan Barnhart was hoping for at least 50 businesses. When she heard back from more than 60, the decision was made to move the Career Fair into the big gym. The larger space accommodated six rows of tables and about 200 students at a time.

Barnhart is a Business Ed teacher at TF South and the primary organizer of TF South’s first Career Fair. The photos below capture some scenes from the event.

Thoughtful arrangement

Each business was given a table and a sign, and businesses were welcome to enhance their “booth” with banners, brochures, samples, and additional signage. The businesses were grouped according to industry, so students with a specific area of interest would be able to visit as many as possible within the limited time they had.

Career Fair
Staff from Ridge Animal Clinic, a veterinary practice in Lansing…

Career Fair
…were positioned next to the representative from Fox College Veterinary Studies.

Career Fair
Representatives from the Health Sciences included an Athletic Trainer…

Career Fair
…a Point-of-Care Coordinator…

Career Fair
…and a phlebotomist!

The Village of Lansing was well represented at the Career Fair. Even though the Village represents a variety of industries, their tables were grouped together, which may have helped students see the possible career paths that can lead into public service:

Career Fair
Mayor Eidam and Ken Reynolds spoke to students interested in Government and Public Administration.

Career Fair
Fabian Newman answered questions about the technology needs of the Village.

Career Fair
Dave Boomker and Neil Murphy represented LNN, the Village’s communication channel.

Career Fair
Village Engineer Jeff Pintar (of Robinson Engineering) spoke with prospective engineers.

Career Fair
The Village of Lansing Building Department spoke to students about their role in ensuring the safety of Lansing residents.

Part of the school day

The Career Fair was scheduled into the school day in a way that allowed all students to participate. Since gym class is a part of every student’s school day, the Career Fair replaced gym today.

Career Fair
When the bell for First Period sounded, the first batch of students began entering the gym.

Career Fair
It didn’t take long for the gym to fill. Approximately 200 students were in each “class” or Career Fair session.

Career Fair
Between sessions, the gym would empty out as students went to their next class. This gave the business representatives about eight minutes to restock brochures, grab refreshments, and interact with each other before the next group of 200 students arrived.

Required interaction

Students had the freedom to visit the tables of any businesses that interested them, but they were required to visit at least four tables during their 40-minute session.

Career Fair
Each student was given a “Career Passport” that would allow them to take notes on the businesses they interacted with.

Career Fair
The passport gave them four questions to ask of each business they visited: What are the educational requirements? What skills lead to success? What classes can I take in high school to prepare for this career? What is the starting salary?

Career Fair
These freshman girls were not quite prepared to start thinking about their careers yet, but they agreed that the Career Fair was an interesting introduction to future possibilities.

Community and variety

Barnhart was intentional about choosing businesses that would showcase the variety of career opportunities available within the Lansing community and the surrounding area.

Career Fair
George Vincent from Unlimited Service Auto talked about the advantages of going into the trades. “You can start working in your chosen profession right away,” he said. “And earning money.”

Moe Giglio (in blue) of Calumet City Plumbing sees a need for qualified tradespeople who do quality work.

Career Fair
People in uniform were popular at the Career Fair, including representatives from the Navy…

Career Fair
…the Illinois Army National Guard…

Career Fair
…the Marines…

Career Fair
…and the Lansing Police Department.

Even within an individual field, students could find a variety of opportunities. For example, within the food industry—

Career Fair
Darius Bright from the Illinois Institute of Art International Culinary School represented the Culinary Arts and the application for Hotel and Tourism businesses.

Career Fair
Deni Nunez, from Carl Buddig, talked about food manufacturing.

Career Fair
And Erikka English, from Dot Foods, was available to talk about food transportation.

Good advice for all of us

Many of the businesses at TF South’s Career Fair were represented by people who are able to speak passionately because they love their work. “I could probably retire,” said a vet tech during a break, “but I love it, so I keep coming in every morning!”

“You have to find a path that’s right for you,” said an engineer. And being able to talk with people from trades, finance, marketing, the sciences, the military, technology, and academia reassured students of the wisdom of matching their skills and interests to whatever profession they choose.

Career Fair
A crowd gathered to hear barbers and business owners Kumasi Barfield and Kermitt Alexander talk about life and work and meaning. “Don’t let anyone tell you your dreams are too big,” they encouraged the kids.

By the end of the 7 sessions, more than 1,800 students had experienced the Career Fair.

TF South High School is located at 18500 Burnham Avenue in Lansing, Illinois.

 

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