‘Get Hired Expo’ helps prepare students for future

The air was tinged with energy and excitement at the Coon Rapids Family Center Mall on April 25 as approximately 120 students from Pathways, Transition Plus, Crossroads West and other district high schools participated in Pathways’ first-ever “Get Hired Expo” event.

The event was a chance for students to meet with potential employers, practice their interview skills (in mock interviews), have their resume reviewed and learn some new skills. Sessions on job-seeking tips and job preparation were also available. “It was an opportunity for students to show what they’ve learned in the classroom and present it to the business community,” said Paula Holden, Pathways work experience coordinator.

That was the case for student Kevin Reil, who attended the expo on the advice of his teacher, Mark Reese, construction careers instructor at the district’s Secondary Technical Education Program (STEP). Reil is considering attending Anoka-Ramsey Community College and a career in construction or manufacturing.

Reil, who completed his senior course work earlier this year, described some of the cool projects he worked on while at STEP, including an indoor bathroom, outdoor toolshed and a dog house.

“What I like about construction is the fact that I’m able to work with my hands,” said Reil. “I love to work with my hands. The freedom of movement, being able to use power tools, operate machinery and working on a team is all great!”

For Transition Plus student KaoZoua Khang, the event was a chance to polish up her interviewing skills. Khang said she already has a job as a nursing assistant, but wanted to gain more interviewing and speaking experience.

“I was nervous to ask questions, or to give the wrong answer,” Khang said of the mock interviews, but it was good practice. She also enjoyed the “Tips for Job Seekers” session. “It was very good – they taught you how to fix your resume and how to be positive (even when you think you answered the question wrong),” said Khang.

Overall, the event exceeded expectations, Holden said. “It was gratifying to see how many students came excited and prepared for the event and how many of local our businesses gave of their time. Students were able to articulate what they had learned, what they experienced in speaking with potential employers and how specifically they could improve their chances for employment. We had a number of students that were invited by businesses to come in for interviews and were subsequently hired.”

Plans are in the works for another expo next year according to Holden. Exit surveys showed that all of the business representatives would be willing to participate again next year.