By Janet Goetze
For the Hollywood Star News
Advance investigation into job interests will help students develop good questions to ask at the fair to gain the information most valuable for them, said Bridget Quinn, workforce development coordinator at the Portland training center for the National Electrical Contractors Association and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
“When someone is attending a career fair,” Quinn said, “I recommend they first look at the list of employers who are going to be there, do a little research to pick out the tables they definitely want to visit, and then also keep an open mind because they might discover something that truly speaks to them.”
The same advice goes for students seeking information about colleges, said Melea Shewman, the Portland regional admissions officer for Oregon State University.
The process of selecting a college can be overwhelming if students cast a net too wide, Shewman said. She suggested making a list of all the schools offering courses of interest. Students also might want to look at the enrollment, the small town or urban setting of the college and other characteristics that appeal to them.
After reducing the list to four or five schools, Shewman recommended, visit campuses before making a final decision.
“A school can look great on paper,” she said. “But they may set foot on the campus and find they don’t like the vibe.”
Miranda Ryan, Benson’s career coordinator, and Sherree Thomas-Coleman, the college coordinator, already are working with Benson students planning for life after graduation.
Benson, like many schools in the metropolitan area, has arranged college and career fairs in the past. However, Benson’s last one was in the spring of 2014, Ryan said, which seemed late for some students. This year’s November date may give students more planning time.
The colleges and universities will include local institutions, from Warner Pacific College, 2219 S.E. 68th Ave., with more than 1,540 students, to the larger state schools with about 25,000 to nearly 29,000 students each: the University of Oregon in Eugene, Portland State University, and Oregon State in Corvallis and Bend.
The employers and training programs expected to attend, in addition to electrical workers, include roofers, Franz Bakery, Elite Plastics, Women in Trades, Portland Parks and Recreation, Providence Hospital and sheet metal workers. Also expected is a representative of Portland Community College, which offers certificates in career programs as well as courses transferable to four-year institutions.
Financial aid is a major concern for Benson students planning to attend college. Pay and benefits are some of the first questions asked by students seeking training for employment, said Joel Gonzalez, director of the apprenticeship program of Oregon and Southwest Washington Roofers.
Neema Doti, 18, a senior who wants to become a doctor, will be looking at out-of-state schools as well as in-state institutions. Christina Dinh, 17, is considering in-state schools but course offerings, for a possible business major, and scholarships will be considerations, too, she said. Kemle Fakhry, 18, wants to stay close to home for college where she will consider courses in communications with, perhaps, an advanced degree in international law. She’s been involved in track and field at Benson, so she’ll look at athletics programs, too.
Two 16-year-old Benson juniors are considering military careers to gain training for future employment. Kenton Hill has had automotive courses at Benson and is considering expanding that field in the Coast Guard, but he’ll be looking at community colleges, too. Sam Miller, Jr., said he’s a “hands-on person” who takes automotive courses. He thinks the Navy will provide the discipline he needs for a future career.
Gonzalez said trades training is a good choice for people who desire an employment skill that can lead to greater opportunities. The roofers and electrical programs, which offer paychecks while learning, also offer associates degrees through Mt. Hood Community College.
For him, skills training brought big benefits, Gonzalez said. He’s been in the roofing field, where professional skills assure building safety, for 21 years. Now he’s directing a program for others to gain new opportunities, he said.