On Jan. 11, 2017, Francis Howell School District (FHSD) hosted its inaugural Job Fair for high school students, and the evening was a tremendous success. Thirty-two businesses and 357 students participated in an event that was the ideal introduction for students to the workforce. From practicing their interview and resume-writing skills to just learning how to dress to impress a potential employer, both students and area businesses got a return on their investment. Better-prepared students mean better employees, which means better business and better communities. It was more than practice; it was a practice in success.
Francis Howell North (FHN) High School’s Michael Freedline, and his fellow Business teachers, spearheaded the event. “It was a great opportunity for students to meet several employers at one time,” Freedline said, “and for the employers to interview/meet potential employees. Most of the businesses that attended usually hire numerous teenagers, but they have never been to a job fair that focused on this age group. It was perfect match for everyone involved.”
For the students, it was an opportunity to put the skills they are learning in school to the test. “We teach job skills in all of our business courses,” Freedline said, “including writing resumes, filling out applications, and interviewing. We utilize role-playing in class, but this gave our students opportunities to use these skills in hopes of attaining a job. In addition to our business courses, we offer seniors an opportunity to be in the work program. This allows students to earn credit while learning on-the-job skills.”
"This is an event that reinforces the business curriculum our District has developed, the goal of which is to prepare students now for success in their future," said Betsy Rivas, the FHSD K-12 Practical Arts Content Leader. “We continually strive to create authentic and relevant learning experiences for students to connect with industry professionals. Our high school job fair was one example of how our students can apply what they’ve learned in our classrooms to a real world application. To have an opportunity such as this mutually benefits our students and area businesses.”
The evening was just as attractive to area businesses for a number of reasons. “The businesses that attended the fair were able to showcase their company, and talk about what positions they were looking to fill. It was also helpful for employers to put a face with an application. They had a chance to screen the applicants before conducting formal interviews, which will save them time and help them find truly quality employees.”
“The feedback from the students and employers was overwhelming positive,” Freedline said. “The employers bragged about our students’ interviewing and communications skills. They also commented on how well-prepared the students were, as well as their professionalism. The students felt they had several good leads for potential employment, and some students were offered jobs that night. They all felt it was a great experience to speak with employers and get over the fear of interviewing for a job.”
The business teachers watched proudly as their students utilized the skills that they had learned in their classes. Moreover, FHSD watched proudly as the students represented their schools in a positive manner. So did the FHSD Job Fair get the job? Freedline said, “The employers, students and teachers all agreed this should become an annual event. We all look forward to building on this success next year.” As does the community.
Click here to read more about how the evening worked.