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Oceana College & Career Fair set for Feb. 21 in Shelby

Sonnie Smith of Crystal Valley Heating and Cooling talks with a student about a career in heating and cooling during last year’s career fair.  

Are you looking for an opportunity to connect to the future workforce? Oceana’s college and career fair committee is seeking businesses and organizations to participate in its 2nd annual event Tuesday, Feb. 21 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Shelby High School. 

Participants will host a booth space to engage students in learning about careers that are in high demand and education options after high school.

The college and career fair provides a critical link between the classroom and the workplace by allowing all Oceana County high school juniors to explore options so they can make informed educational and career choices. It is imperative for students to see how English, math, problem solving, teamwork and other basic skills learned in the classroom are used on the job.

“One comment we hear regularly from high school students is that they don’t really know what kind of jobs are out there, what they would be good at, or who to turn to for help to navigate the options after high school,” Oceana College Access Network Coordinator Alyssa Merten said. “Who could be better to help them than adults who are working in high demand careers in our local community!”  Merten added.

According to Merten, responses from businesses who participated in last years college and career fair were overwhelmingly positive, saying this event was “a great way to interact with students and an opportunity to share pride in our company and career options.” 

To host a booth at the career fair and offer a couple of hours of your day to interact with students, area busniess leaders and owners are asked to fill out a participation form found online at www.oceanacan.org/resources/partner-programs/

Event organizers suggest businesses have a hands-on, engaging booth with tools from your trade, games, or activities that allow students to get a real feel for what a day in your job looks like.

Last year, Dad’s Automotive engaged many students by bringing the “shop feel” right into the career fair, complete with mechanic uniform and tools used every day in the shop. Silver Lake Resort and Campground brought a bean bag toss game to engage students in learning how building relationships with clientele is key to finding success in hospitality and tourism management. It would be tough to forget the display of brownies and bread bites that disappeared quite quickly from Laughing Tree Brick Oven Bakery’s table as Hilde Muller shared the bakery’s story of artisan bread baking and building a small business from the bottom up.  

Last year’s event featured over 45 businesses and organizations engaging students with videos, handouts, freebies and prizes. What mattered most to the students though, was realizing that there are so many adults in the community that are genuinely interested in them and invested in their future.

Oceana CAN! encourages you to always be thinking about how you can help students reach higher to pursue post-secondary education. Currently only about 56 percent of high school seniors in Oceana County enroll in post-secondary education after graduation and only 30 percent ever complete a degree or credential. Numerous studies show that the job market is very quickly changing and by 2018 over 62 percent of jobs in Michigan will require some form of training after high school. 

“It is up to us right here in our local community to help encourage and support our youth in obtaining the training needed to be successful in the future job market,” Merten said.

Contact Merten at the Oceana CAN! office by calling 231-301-8210 or e-mailing Alyssa.merten@oceanacan.org with any questions about the Oceana College & Career Fair.