Career Fair helps high school senior connect with career opportunities

March 15, 2018
U.S. Marine Corps recruiter Staff Sergeant Mark Rachow talks with DPS high school students.

Recruiters from the military, government, retail, hospitality and education sectors connected with emerging Durham Public Schools talent March 14 at the annual Ready, Set, Go…Launch Your Career! career fair.

Asplundh Tree Experts, Chik-Fil-A, Durham Technical Community College, Duke Energy, Durham Fire Department, Hilton Garden Inn, Hilldrup Moving and Storage, L’Oréal Elevate Salon Institute, U.S. Air Force, Army and Marine Corps were among the organizations courting high school students who intend to go work right out of high school.

More than 50 high school students attended, receiving valuable guidance on interviewing techniques, dressing for success, financial planning and money management, as well as a chance to network with employers and learn more about the career paths they offer.

The event is part of a continuum of work-based learning opportunities under development by Made in Durham partners to expose young people to careers and help them get work experience. These activities help prepare Durham’s young people for careers, creating a pipeline of talent for ensuring regional companies can compete and grow.

“This event is a chance for students to speak to industry professionals about what they have to offer, which is often different than students expect,” said Tyesha Arnold, a college liaison for Durham Technical Community College. “Then they can talk to us about the kinds of courses we offer to support those opportunities. This can help them narrow down their career goals, and then we can help them put together a path to achieve those goals.”

Terry Richardson, owner of L’Oréal’s new Elevate Salon Institute, which recently opened in Durham, said she was there to reach out to creative and artistic students who might not be interested in a traditional college path. “The beauty industry is a multi-billion-dollar industry that offers the opportunity for fulfilling, creative careers that make good money. I’m here to reach out to students who might be interested in those types of careers, and also those who are unsure of the path they want to take and need a good opportunity in the meantime,” said Richardson.

Abbigail Flynn, general manager of the Hilton Garden Inn Durham/University Medical Center, said the hospitality industry lends itself to experience over education when it comes to careers. “We are supportive of kids pursuing education, but we can offer them opportunities for a career in hospitality, or for good jobs while they pursue an education, or even while they are considering other career paths,” said Flynn.

In addition to meeting potential employers, students attended breakout sessions designed to help them be successful in their job search and to manage their lives after graduation. Business and Community Partners offered mock interviews and resume advice. Dress for Success helped students understand the importance of dressing professionally for interviews and the workplace. The Latino Community Credit Union provided students with information about money management and financial literacy.

“I came here for help with my resume, and they showed me how to tailor it to specific employers, which was really helpful,” said Faith Johnson, a senior at Hillside High School. “I also met a woman who talked with me about business and entrepreneurship, and I plan to connect with her again.”

Emanuel Hester, also a senior at Hillside high school, said he learned valuable information about checking and savings accounts, budgeting, credit cards and 401-K retirement accounts. “I come to this event every year, and every time I do I grow,” said Hester. “It’s very informative, and a great way to meet business people.”

Hillside senior Dymar Watson said the event gave him another outlook on how things can happen after high school. “This has shown me that college is not the only option, that there are many opportunities to find financial success without a college degree,” Watson said.

“All kids want to be successful after high school,” said staff sergeant Robert McKeithan, a recruiter with the U.S. Marine Corps who participated in the job fair. “We’re here to answer questions and to provide young men and women with a way to make that happen. This not only helps them, but helps the community they return to when they learn employable skills and become well-rounded citizens,” said McKeithan.

For more information about connecting Durham students and employers, contact DPS Lead Workforce Coordinator Ondrea Austin at (919) 560-3858 or


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Made in Durham is a community partnership of educators, business, government, youth-serving nonprofits and young people mobilized around a shared vision that all of Durham’s youth will complete high school and a post-secondary credential and begin a rewarding career by the age of 25.
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