HOUSTON – Feb. 24, 2020 – About 350 students from Dekaney, Spring, Westfield and Carl Wunsche Sr. high schools attended the Career Connection Expo 2020 on Feb. 21 at the district’s Community Engagement Center. Representatives from a wide range of universities, the military and about 40 businesses and organizations were on hand to talk to students – mostly seniors but some juniors – about their needs and interests.
“We do this event this time of year for seniors who may not have decided where they are going to go and what they are going to do,” said Career and Technical Education Director Cynthia Williams. “They’re not necessarily going to college right out of high school, so we’ve provided them with opportunities where they can maybe work right out of high school or work on certifications offered by some of the companies here today.”
Williams said that seniors get first chance at attending the expo, and if there are still openings, juniors who are looking for summer jobs or who will be enrolled in a CTE program next school year are given the opportunity to attend also.
Job opportunities ranged from the U.S. Census Bureau, which is hiring students 18 and older to help with the 2020 census this summer, to CenterPoint Energy.
Students lined up at the phlebotomy booth where they got to try their hand at drawing fake blood from a fake arm. Victoria Doan, with BridgeYear, said her organization gives students at career fairs the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in order to help them decide for themselves whether they want to pursue a career in that field.
Jurnee Young, a Westfield senior who is planning a career in medicine, said she was surprised and pleased that she got the opportunity because she has been nervous about needles when she went to the doctor herself. “Now I won’t be scared of needles any more,” Young said. She plans to join the Air Force after graduation and eventually become a pediatrician.
Doan not only thinks phlebotomy is a “great career for someone in the health-care field” but also sees it as an opportunity to grow in the industry. “Students can kind of stack on credentials,” she said, referring to the practice of one certification or license leading to another, such as EKG technician.
The Pro Se Legal Studies Institute, participating in the expo for the first time, also sees their nine-month program as a gateway to bigger things.
“Some kids aren’t ready for the four year (program), but they definitely need an option; they need a career,” said Erica Bolden-Howard, with Pro Se Legal. “Paralegal is one of the things you can do to not only be financially taken care of, but you can also make a difference in the world. Once they are finished with paralegal, they may even be interested in becoming an attorney. This gives them a leadway into that and also provides a good opportunity.”
Economic Alliance Houston Port Region representative Patti Bell kept busy with students who were seeing, for the first time, the variety and high number of job opportunities offered by the petrochemical field. “When would they learn about this,” Bell asked, if they didn’t have the opportunity at a career fair. “They don’t walk out of their house and see industry, like I walk out of my house and see industry. I drive across the ship channel everyday. I see the ships going underneath the Fred Hartman Bridge. They don’t.”
The petrochemical booth was an eyeopener for Carlos Guzman, a Dekaney senior, who said he didn’t know anything about the many petrochemical jobs available until he came to the expo. “They will train you so that is good for me,” Guzman said. “I got the idea when she was saying how good it was and how much they paid. It makes you think about the future.”