May 7, 2021
When I started work on our first South Portland High School Career Fair it was challenging to secure businesses to sign-up and come in to present at this event. In recent years, businesses have seen the impact their participation makes and the value of planting the career opportunity seed early in high school students.
I’ve been teaching Career and College Exploration courses in South Portland (SP), and was recently named one of Maine’s Jump$tart Teachers of the year for the 20-21 school year. SP has always had a robust career fair. We feel extremely fortunate to work with the local Chambers of Commerce connections and local businesses for the event.
When the fair was cancelled in 2020, we’d already reached out to and committed nearly 90 businesses for our 10th Annual SPHS Career Fair. In preparation for the 2021 event, we brainstormed about the capabilities of the virtual world and soon realized the limitless possibilities an online platform supports. This year was such a big endeavor and I’d be remiss not to mention the instrumental influence of my co-chair Samantha Brink from the Sanford School Department.
We’re using a platform called HopIn where we can build schedules, businesses can sign up for time slots to present and once all is scheduled, schools that register will have that schedule. As of now, from May 17-21 we have a total of 192 sessions over the 3 day event running every half hour where four sessions will run concurrently. When students register, they’ll see the available sessions throughout the day which are grouped in clusters specific to: Agriculture & Earth Science, Architecture & Construction, Business, Communication & Media, Education, Finance, Health Science, Hospitality, Human Services & Wellness, Non-Profit, Public & Government, Skilled Trades, Technology & Engineering and Visual & Performing Arts.
Students have shared what they’ve liked, what they’ve learned and that sometimes the fair opportunities confirm their interests. They’ve also mentioned that sometimes it helps them open up to other opportunities and get connected for internships. Students get an authentic experience talking with those in careers which you can’t always provide in a classroom environment. They’re able to gain information straight from the source about credentials, education requirements and what employers are looking for. We’ve also seen at risk students find reasons to graduate through the connections they make.
The fair provides a diverse exposure to businesses and career fields over the course of 3 days, as well as key note speakers on day one and supplemental classroom activities and contests on day five to round out the week. We look forward to the opportunities provided at this year's event.
- Sheree Inman, VCF Event Co-Chair, South Portland School Department
For more information visit: mevirtualcareerfair.org/