Three reasons transition students should attend 

If you thought job fairs were only for students ready for full-time careers, you might be missing out on a world of opportunities.

 All over Oregon, job fairs and career expos help transition students gain a better understanding of what their future could hold. Whether large or small, these events connect students of all abilities with businesses looking for employees, and with colleges and trade schools for post-secondary education.

the  In Southern Oregon, the Careers in Gear job fair has been a tradition for 11 years, and this year was the biggest yet. The fair filled the Jackson County Expo Center with 1951 transition and high school students from Jackson, Josephine and Klamath counties. They spent the day exploring 145 booths set up by local businesses, trade schools and colleges. The main industries included healthcare, construction,, transportation, helping professions, information technology,  childcare, administrative services, manufacturing, natural resources and the military.

 The Careers in Gear job fair is organized by the Project Youth+ Career Build program. Jenifer Parry, project manager at Project Youth+, sees this event as more than an opportunity to land a summer job. “Students can explore careers available right in their own backyard, and they have the chance to ask folks working in a certain job what it’s like–what are their favorite and least favorite parts of that kind of work,” she said.

 Not all students are hired during a job fair, but each gains helpful insights. Read on to find three important lessons transition students can learn at a job fair…

Watch Project Youth+Career Build video here.


Why should transition students attend job fairs and career expos?

Even if a student doesn’t feel ready to look for paid employment, attending a career expo is still a terrific learning opportunity. Here are some of the ways that participating can help students prepare for their future.

  • Exploring booths helps to find new career paths that fit your strengths

Maybe you like to work with your hands, but never thought that might include baking, welding or styling hair. Maybe you’re good with details but need a quiet work environment. That might mean data entry, or greenhouse work. For every strength a person might have, there is a job that requires that skill. And a career expo is the place to learn about those jobs.

  • Talking with different businesses helps build communication skills

Sometimes, talking with employers can be stressful. Job fairs are a low-pressure environment where students can practice interacting on a professional level. That might mean learning to ask questions about a business and learning to answer questions about yourself. You’ll see how people dress for work, and how they behave. The more you practice, the easier it gets.

  • Networking helps to grow your community

Talking with an employer at a job fair booth is a chance to leave a good impression—and to leave your resume. That employer may know another business with a job opening perfect for you! Or they might keep your resume on file for their own next opening.


Ready to find a job fair or career expo near you? Here are some of the larger job fairs planned for regions around Oregon:

 Eugene Area: This online virtual job fair features entry-level job openings in the Eugene area. Register through the website, then be ready to show your best self on Wednesday, September 21, 2022, from 11:00am to 2:00pm.


Central Oregon: The Central Oregon Skilled Trades Fair happens Friday, November 18, 2022, at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds. Check out their video to see the hands-on experiences from last year’s expo!


Portland Metro area: The NW Youth Careers Expo happens next February 22, 2023, at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. This annual event draws in about 6,500 students and almost 200 booths. In addition to top employers, students can talk to apprenticeship training centers and colleges, engage in mock interviews and try out different interactive activities.

Also in Portland: The Oregon Tradeswomen’s Annual Career Fair is an interactive, trades-related event planned for May of 2023. The focus is on women in apprentice programs for construction trades,and how to get into a career with little to no debt. Most workshops are managed by tradeswomen, demonstrating the power and potential of a truly diverse workforce. Check the website for updates and details!

Southern Oregon: If you missed the Careers in Gear Expo this year, watch for information on the 2023 date! This annual event is organized by the Project Youth+ Career Build program. In the meantime, Project Youth+ can help you prepare for a job fair with resume help and other support services.