On Thursday morning, approximately 100 professionals from businesses and organizations in our area will visit Fort Dodge Senior High for Career Day. All students from both Fort Dodge Senior High and St. Edmond High School will participate. After a number of years of not having a Career Fair, this event was started again last year due to the need in our community for both schools and businesses to be aware of the skills, training and education needed to fill jobs right here in our region.
This year, students will be able to choose which speakers they listen to. The morning will begin around 8:30 a.m. and will be divided into four, 40-minute sessions. During three of the sessions, the students will rotate between three of their chosen speakers. During the fourth session, the students will have the opportunity to visit with visiting colleges, businesses and organizations that will have tables set up in the gym. There will also be individuals with information about financial aid available for questions. And as an extra treat, Chef Michael Hirst from Willow Ridge will be doing cooking demonstrations all morning. These displays and college expos, with the exception of Michael Hirst's demonstration, will also be available for parents to visit during the afternoon when they are at the school for parent-teacher conferences. Please take the time to walk through here and take advantage of this opportunity.
This is a unique opportunity for students to learn what jobs and career opportunities are available right here. So often, people feel they need to go to Des Moines or Kansas City or other locations in order to have a job. This Career Fair will let them know the many varied opportunities that exist right here, and what path the people took to get where they are.
We will have representatives from banks, Webster County Conservation, Trinity Regional Medical Center, Friendship Haven, Allers Architects, the city of Fort Dodge, Boehringer-Ingelheim, insurance companies, McClure Engineering, Fort Dodge schools, Fort Dodge Police Department and Fire Department, Gunderson Funeral Home, C&S Products and many, many, many others.
Students have completed a request form that will indicate their area of preferences in regard to the speakers. We encourage parents to discuss this opportunity with their children so that they are able to ask productive questions and promote active discussions during the speakers' sessions. The speakers are all from our community who are volunteering their entire morning for this event. It is very generous of them to take the time away from their jobs to do this for the students and the community's future.
Juan Garcia, director of the Iowa College Access Network, will also be at the Career Fair, in the gym with the colleges. The mission of the Iowa College Access Network is to help individuals attain their educational and career goals. ICAN operates two College Planning Centers, one in Cedar Rapids and the other in Des Moines. The centers provide free information and support to a diverse population of students and their families as they plan, apply, pay for and succeed in college.
ICAN also helps all students, including disadvantaged, minority and first-generation students, enter and succeed in post-secondary education by accessing programs that provide counseling, advice and financial assistance. ICAN works closely with the National College Access Network to bring national access programs to Iowa students. ICAN became its own nonprofit organization with its own board of directors in 2009. Garcia speaks Spanish and is making the trip from Des Moines so he can help those who may need language assistance.
Some of the topics the speakers are being asked to address are: educational needs to do their job, salary ranges, what their responsibilities are, what other jobs they had, how many hours a week do they work and what traits they look for when they are hiring someone.
Please encourage your children to actively participate in this event. It will be interesting, stimulating and very informative.
I think one of the main reasons I feel events like this are so important and so influential, is because one of my sons attended a career fair when he was in high school and had the opportunity to hear a pharmacist talk about all the different opportunities available with a degree in pharmacy. He found it fascinating - and understood that there are many things he could do in that field. He is now in his first year of pharmacy school, and also has an internship with a researcher who is studying the behavior of proteins in relation to leukemia. I am sure he would never have even considered this field had he not heard a pharmacist at his career fair during his junior year in high school.
This eye-opening experience can happen to many of the students. Just knowing about the many different opportunities available to students can make all the difference in the world - all the positive difference in the world.
Amy Bruno is executive director of the Fort Dodge Area Chamber of Commerce.