On Wednesday, March 11th, many students attended the first-ever Enrichment Fair at South to talk with representatives from over fifteen organizations about opportunities for jobs, volunteer positions, internships, camps and more. The fair was hosted by the Career and College Center (CCC) to help students find jobs or volunteer positions over the summer.
Kelsey Massey, the Career Readiness Coordinator in the CCC, organized the fair. “We were super fortunate because I think there is a need [for the fair]. We have a lot of students who are interested in summer jobs and summer opportunities and what to do over the summer,” said Massey, who hopes to use the fair to fulfill that need, or at least encourage students to apply. Tea Roepke, a junior who attended the fair said, “South is really good at helping students of all incomes and all genders get a leg up on something.” All students who had signed permission from their teachers were encouraged to come to the fair.
Bezawit Abate, a junior who found the fair via the South website, is using it as a chance to find volunteer positions and possibly a job. “It’s a really good thing that South is doing the Enrichment Fair because some of us don’t know how to start and so it’s a really good thing that will help us start,” she said.
Roepke heard about the fair through some of her friends. She wants to get a job or an internship and hopes to use these opportunities to build her connections. “I have no idea what I want in the future, so this is really going to help me,” she said. By the end of the fair, Roepke decided that she was interested in applying for a paid position as an election judge to help voters at a polling place. She added, “I want to start having a job… I want to see what having a job is like since I haven’t had one.”
The fair allowed people to interact and create a network of connections to foster opportunities. “You’re going to sit, you’re going to have conversations, you’re going to meet new people, you’re going to hear about the opportunities they can provide to you. And then you can identify for yourself what opportunity suits you or best supports what you can do in the future,” said Massey. This network can continue to be used even after someone graduates high school.
The previous week, there was an Opportunity Fair, targeted towards seniors interested in the trades. Individuals met with plumbers, electricians, and others to discuss the trade programs and specific career pathways. In contrast, the Enrichment Fair provided more general options for people not necessarily interested in the trades and interested in a volunteer, internship, camp, or job opportunities.
Abate hopes to gain work experience and knowledge from volunteering, “That would be really good on my college applications.” It is a mutually beneficial partnership for the groups that have these opportunities for students. As the workforce shifts, organizations can get younger people involved in their work earlier. Massey pointed out that it is also important for students to find what they like to do and also what they don’t like to do.
Abate is interested in volunteering for the Benedictine Health Center. She would get to help seniors and to pursue pathways for her future. “I like helping a lot of people and also I want to go into the medical field which is a really good opportunity,” she said.
Students can build communication and professional skills while working independently. There is more to be gained than just money, explained Massey. “Even if you are just volunteering for the summer, it might not be a paycheck per se, but the experience that you get there is like tenfold, in the sense that you get to put that on your resume, you build your network, you meet new people. I just want us to be able to realize those secondary factors that come with those opportunities outside of just a paycheck sometimes.”