The Big Picture

Thoughts on big issues, challenges, and celebrations of the education work we do....

Meet HDESD board member Anthony Georger

Appointed in 2022 to represent the local business community, Anthony Georger is the controller and vice president of finance for Seran Bioscience. He brings more than 15 years of accounting and finance experience, specializing in aerospace, agricultural and media industries. He moved from New England to Central Oregon with his wife and three children in 2020, and has been actively engaged and interested in the local education system.

We asked Anthony about his new role and here’s what he had to say…

What inspired you to explore a board seat with HDESD?

I was inspired to explore joining the HDESD board by the kind words and praise I heard for the HDESD from volunteer colleagues with the United Way of Central Oregon and EDCO.  

 What are you most looking forward to in your role as a board member?

I am looking forward to using my financial background and experience to help the board make resource allocation choices.  I am also excited to learn about all of the programs HDESD has to offer, providing any help where possible to further publicize these programs for the betterment of the local community.

What do you believe are the greatest challenges we face as an ESD moving forward?

As we are at the end of most COVID-era fiscal spending, I think the HDESD will be challenged to continue to provide top-level programs for a fast-growing local community in a more restrictive fiscal environment.  I believe it will be achievable to provide excellence with tighter budgets, but it will take careful thought and planning.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I am honored to have been chosen to serve on the HDESD school board. I am learning about all of the programs the HDESD provides to our local community, and look forward to working as a champion for the HDESD within other local organizations. 

Success story: A Seamless Transition Success Story, with Tyler Saejow

Seeing what’s possible after graduation 

When Tyler Saejow was a student at the Centennial Transition Center (CTC) in East Portland, he wasn’t sure what the future would hold for him. He never imagined that five years after graduating from the CTC he would have the full, busy life he now leads. 

Saejow graduated from CTC in 2017. Since that time, he has moved out of his family home into a nearby apartment, which he shares with a roommate. He rides public transportation to get around town, including to his job at Target. And, he stays connected to family, friends, and to his past CTC teachers. 

How did all the pieces come together for Saejow? Looking back, he sees that his experiences at the CTC laid the foundation for his success. 

  

The timeline from student to employee 

Saejow was part of a CTC pilot project that aimed to help students shift from school to work as seamlessly as possible. Sarah Statham, who worked with Saejow at the CTC and now serves as the transition network facilitator, explained the goal of the project.   

“Before students graduate, we take them through the job discovery process. We get them connected to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and to job coaches. Students are set up for supported employment before they exit the public school system,” she said. 

Deven Kautza, CTC teacher, agrees. “When we work collaboratively, our students engage with the network of people that will stay with them beyond school. They are already familiar with the support systems as they start their jobs, and that feels good.” 

A seamless transition includes more than work experiences. Learning to get around town matters too! As a student, Saejow practiced using public transportation with his teacher and classmates. He became comfortable with figuring out the routes and time schedules. Now he rides the TriMet buses and MAX light rail trains wherever he needs to go.   

Saejow also remembers exploring different workplaces while at CTC, with a job coach from Dirkes Counseling & Consulting. They checked out a position in the kitchen at IKEA, which was not the kind of work he wanted. They looked at jobs at the MODA center, which felt too big and crowded. And then they talked with the supervisors at Target, who made Saejow feel welcome and supported. 

He began working at Target while still a CTC student. In fact, he had to ask for the day off in order to attend his CTC graduation ceremony—a memory that makes both Saejow and Statham smile. 

“The people there were so nice. They are the part of my job that I like the best,” said Saejow. He also likes that his days are active and he gets to move a lot, as he collects and arranges the shopping carts outside and inside the store. This year, Saejow is also learning cashier and checkout duties, and helps with the self-checkout station. 

  

When students succeed, teachers succeed 

The teachers at CTC stay in touch with students after graduation, to follow up and see where their lives are taking them. Saejow stays in contact too, and even comes back to the classroom occasionally to volunteer. 

Statham and Kautza appreciate staying connected to Saejow. As Statham explained, teachers don’t often have the chance to see their students thriving after they graduate. 

“We’re in the trenches creating lessons and instruction for our current classes. We rarely look up to take in the results of all that work. When you run into a past student and see they are leading a good life and are part of a community, it feels so good because that is exactly what we want for each of them. Successes like Tyler’s remind us that we’re on the right track,” said Statham. 

Saejow agrees that the work he put into his transition program put him on the right track. He plans to stay on that track: working at Target and staying in close touch with his friends, former teachers, and his family.    

 

Central Oregon educators, leaders reaffirm commitment to strengthen school safety

Central Oregon school superintendents, fire and police chiefs, sheriffs, district attorneys, and public and mental health leaders gathered on November 16 at the High Desert Education Service District in Redmond to publicly reaffirm their commitment to the region’s Safe Schools Alliance. The group, which meets monthly to strengthen the foundation for the prevention of youth violence and the healthy development of children and families, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to continue and grow their community and interagency partnerships. 

“When kids feel safe at school, they are better able to learn, and we know schools can’t do this critical work alone,” said Jim Boen, regional director of mental and behavioral health for HDESD and a former teacher, school counselor and administrator. “This multi-agency partnership continues to strengthen our efforts to provide safe and secure school environments.”

According to Boen, the multi-agency partnership was established in 1998 following the deadly on-campus attack at Thurston High School in Springfield, Oregon. As a result of that tragedy, Deschutes County formed CRASH (Crime Reduction at School Houses). Not long after, the name was changed to Safe Schools Alliance and partner agencies were expanded to include Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties. The local tri-county alliance to enhance safety within school environments, protect students and teachers and provide immediate accountability for crimes committed at schools was one of the first collaborations of police, fire, mental health, district attorneys and schools of its kind in the country, and quickly become a model for excellence in collaboration and communication among partner agencies that work together to improve school safety in the United States.

Today, SSA members work together to enhance safety training, facility reviews, positive school climate efforts and more. Safe Schools Alliance members meet monthly during the school year to discuss a wide range of issues, including substance use/abuse, sex trafficking, preventative facility safety and the review of protocols for responding to school violence.

Agencies attending the Safe Schools Alliance MOU signing event include:

Bend Fire and Rescue
Bend Police Department
Bend-La Pine Schools
Black Butte Ranch Police Department
Cascades Academy
Crook County District Attorney
Crook County Fire and Rescue
Crook County Juvenile Justice
Crook County Sheriff’s Office
Crook County School District
Culver School District
Department of Human Services-Child Welfare (Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties)
Deschutes County Behavioral Health
Deschutes County District Attorney
Deschutes County Juvenile Justice
Deschutes County Health Services
Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office
High Desert Education Service District
Jefferson County Education Service District
Jefferson County District Attorney
Jefferson Fire District
Jefferson County Juvenile Justice
Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office
Jefferson County School District
La Pine Rural Fire Protection District
Prineville Police Department
Redmond Fire and Rescue
Redmond Police Department
Redmond School District
Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District
Sisters School District
St. Francis School
Sunriver Fire Department
Sunriver Police Department
Trinity Lutheran School

“Together, we are working to provide all kids the opportunity to be in school and learning without fear that something negative will happen to affect their safety,” said Boen.

For more about the Safe Schools Alliance, visit:https://centraloregonschoolsafety.org

Success Story: Learning to push yourself, with Cyrus Belizi

When a support team clears the path, it’s time to do the work

Sometimes we look at high school graduation as just a celebration that wraps up twelve years of school. But for Cyrus Belizi, graduation from high school was just the beginning of several new opportunities that have set his life on an exciting new path.

Belizi, age 19, graduated from Bend High School in 2022. A few months before graduation, he began working with Adrianne Goodrich, Youth Transition Specialist (YTP) at Bend Senior High School. Goodrich had recently learned about a possible opening at Bend Camper Company. She thought it might be a good fit for Belizi, even as a temporary internship.

As they walked together from Bend High to check out the business, Belizi questioned whether he even wanted to try this out or not. After meeting with Chip Conrad, lead director and builder at Bend Camper Company, he agreed to give it a few days. As Goodrich described, it wasn’t long before everyone realized this was a win-win, and Belizi’s temporary work experience grew into permanent, paid employment.

 

Finding a mentor at Bend Camper Company

“My first few days here, I was very unsure about what I was doing and unsure whether I wanted to continue this work. But then we started building shelves in the vans and I got to start making things,” said Belizi.

Belizi’s responsibilities have grown as he learns new skills. He may install flooring into a van one day and help around the office and shop the next. He’s learned to take on projects that require design skills and craftsmanship–like creating a large new keyholder board with the shop logo. It was so well-designed that he was asked to make two more!

Conrad, his supervisor and mentor, appreciates Belizi’s persistence with problem-solving. “When I ask Cyrus to do something, he figures out how to get it done. He checks online videos and looks for the answers before he asks for help,” said Conrad.

Conrad reached out to the Transition Co-op, and to Bend High, to offer an internship at his business because he knows firsthand the importance of positive work experiences for transition students. This understanding comes from his years of mentoring students as a teacher and as a coach, and from his own personal experiences with learning disabilities. As a mentor, he focuses on good work habits in addition to craftsmanship.

“Hard skills like using a drill or fixing a cabinet are important. But soft skills like showing up on time, figuring out how to do a job right, finishing what you start—those are what make work successful,” he said. He added that Belizi has never once been late, even when he walked two miles to get to work.

A license, a scholarship and a new future career

Soon after Belizi became part of the Bend Camper Company team, Goodrich helped him enroll in Vocational Rehabilitation (VR). This was important, she explained, so he could access driver training class. VR can offer behind-the-wheel training for enrolled clients over the age of 18. Belizi had been saving to buy a car and was able to complete the training, pass the driving test and purchase his own car.

In addition to working with Goodrich on job skills, Belizi took the advice of a teacher at Bend High and stopped in at the Future Center. This office helps students explore careers and post-secondary education.

For Belizi, that meant applying for the welding career pathway, a certificate program at Central Oregon Community College. The Future Center staff also helped him apply for a scholarship through the Oregon Promise grant. Before learning about the scholarship, Belizi never considered college as a possibility, he said. Now, six months after graduating high school, he sees a new path to a career in welding.

“I wouldn’t be doing all of this without the help from Adrianne and Chip,” said Belizi.

He also recognizes that while a support team can open doors, he had to do the work for himself. “There were times when I didn’t think I could do something. Then I pushed myself to keep at it and figure it out. Sometimes you have to just push yourself harder, and then you can do it,” he said.

Let’s keep Disability Employment Awareness going BEYOND October

How to celebrate workers with disabilities every month

Since 1945, October has been named National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The purpose of NDEAM is to celebrate the success of individuals with disabilities in the workforce. It also helps businesses learn more about inclusive employment practices. All month long, agencies and organizations spotlight the contributions made by people with disabilities. NDEAM also raises awareness of fair employment opportunities and wages, in Oregon and across the country.

As October comes to an end, it’s the perfect time to think about how disability employment awareness has grown in Oregon, and how our transition network works year-round to support students in their journey to employment.

 

NDEAM and Employment Equity in Oregon

This year, the NDEAM theme was Disability: Part of the Equity Equation. From the national level to the local grassroots, the goal of NDEAM this year was to encourage a wide variety of employers to learn more about the potential in hiring people with disabilities and the benefits of a diverse workforce.

 Here in Oregon, there is much to celebrate, especially within the transition network.

This year, the state was recognized to be in substantial compliance with the terms of the Lane v. Brown Settlement Agreement. That means that the state no longer supports sheltered workshops for people with I/DD. Instead, the state provides job training and career planning to integrate workers with and without disabilities, and to help find employment at fair wage levels.

In fact, the state went beyond the minimum requirements to settle the lawsuit. The support systems created during this time to support workers with disabilities make sure that today’s transition students have every opportunity to succeed in a job with fair pay and contribute to their community.

 

The impact of a strong transition network

To achieve these employment goals, agencies found new ways to cooperate.  The Transition Technical Assistance Network (TTAN) partnered with the Vocational Rehabilitation and Developmental Disabilities agencies to provide greater support for clients. School districts across Oregon rose to the occasion, making major changes to improve the transition programs.

The end result of this work, as the final report on the lawsuit outlines, is a better pathway for young adults with disabilities to reach their employment goals. Transition programs are more community based and offer more authentic opportunities. More school-based businesses have been created to give students integrated work experiences. And conversations with students and families start earlier, to help students define their goals and dreams for the future.

 

How to keep disability employment awareness going

NDEAM won’t be back until next October, but each of us can keep celebrating the success of people with disabilities in the workforce. Here’s a few ideas how.

  • As you shop or visit businesses in your community, recognize the local employers who hire people with disabilities. Let them know you appreciate seeing diversity in their staff and in the community.
  • Consider how a person with disabilities could contribute to your own workplace. If a position for an internship or employment is available, reach out to a TNF, YTP or transition teacher in your area.
  • Encourage young adults with I/DD in your community to keep working with their support team to reach their employment goals.
  • And finally – be sure to share this newsletter to spread the word about the success stories and resources throughout Oregon’s transition network.

 

 

Three Reasons Volunteering Makes a Difference for Transition Students

Tips on finding the right volunteer opportunity

What if you could find a way to help others, and it only cost you a little bit of time? What if you got to know some fun new people–and learned some new skills along the way? Would you be interested in giving this idea a try?

If you said “Yes! Sign me up!” you’re ready to look for a volunteer opportunity. In most communities there are plenty of possibilities once you start looking for them. A volunteer job could mean anything from caring for animals at a shelter to organizing the shelves at a thrift store to serving coffee at a community kitchen.

Transition students aim for paid employment, and volunteering does not replace that goal. But even if volunteering doesn’t offer a paycheck, the rewards are still valuable. For many transition students, volunteering is an important part of figuring out their goals and finding their future career.

Here are three ways that transition students benefit by volunteering in their community:

Expand your social network and community

Volunteering offers an easy way to meet others who share your interests. For example, a student who loves sports might volunteer with a local team. That’s a good way to meet other sports fans. By helping at an animal shelter, volunteers meet other animal lovers. Being part of a volunteer team makes it easy to get to know each other as peers—there is always something to chat about as you work together on a common goal.

But it’s not just the volunteer with disabilities who gets to expand their social network! Neurotypical people benefit by getting to know others with diverse abilities, and gain a better understanding of the ways that people with disabilities contribute to the community.

Build your work experiences and professional network

Volunteering is one way to sample different kinds of work. For example, a few hours a week at a non-profit thrift shop is a low-risk way to experience the world of retail. A volunteer might learn that they enjoy customer service and cashier duties (and those skills look great on a resumé.) Or they might learn that retail is not the best fit for them, and their career path lies in another direction.

Sometimes volunteer positions pave a new pathway to employment. For example, check out the story about a volunteer internship that turned into a paid job at the same business. In this story, the student learned the details of her work so well that she was asked to stay on as an employee.

In other cases, volunteering helps students build a solid list of references. References can include supervisors and team members who know the student well. Most job applications ask for several references and their phone numbers. These people can tell future employers about the student’s work habits and describe what a helpful, cheerful employee this person would be!

Make a difference in the world—and learn how good that feels.

According to the Mayo Clinic, volunteering time and energy to help others is good for both mental and physical health. People who volunteer have less loneliness and depression, lower blood pressure and stress levels, and they tend to live longer, too. Through volunteering, people can stay connected to their community and that keeps them healthier in return.

Interested in finding a volunteer opportunity? Here are a few tips to get started.

Begin by talking with the people you know

The best way to learn about a volunteer spot is simply to ask around. Talk with people that you trust, like family friends or adults in your faith community. It’s always a good idea to share what you learn with parents or family. They may have good insights about the organization, or may want to go with you to meet the volunteer coordinator.

At school, transition students have several go-to resources to help find a volunteer opportunity. Ask your teacher or Youth Transition Program (YTP) specialist, or check in at your high school’s career center about local organizations or events that need volunteers. They can help think through what volunteer spots might be the best fit for you and help you make the connection to learn more.

Check online for volunteer connections

Websites like VolunteerMatch.org let searchers browse through a variety of organizations and events looking for help from volunteers. Start with your town and the kind of volunteering that interests you. Some opportunities are for on-going work and some are temporary. Volunteer Match includes a wide range of possibilities for all kinds of abilities.

Other websites get more local, and list opportunities aimed for people with disabilities. For example, AbilitiesAtWork.org partners with organizations in the Portland area to connect people with intellectual disabilities to volunteer jobs that both give back and teach job skills.

In Central Oregon, Partners in Possibilities is a newer resource for connecting young adults with disabilities to volunteer experiences. Partners in Possibilities is one part of Diversability Village, a comprehensive resource list for people with disabilities in Central Oregon.

Success story: Finding a job that helps people, with Evelyn Zaragoza

Every step brought her closer to her goal 

“The best part of my job is knowing that I make other people’s days better,” said Evelyn Zaragoza.

 Zaragoza, age 21, works in cleaning at the Asante medical office building in White City, Oregon. She enjoys her job, especially because she knows that by keeping the offices clean and safe she’s making it a better place for everyone who comes to the building. 

Finding a job that she loves didn’t just happen by chance. Zaragoza’s success happened because she worked hard at every step along the way, said Melanie Rodgers, Youth Transition Specialist (YTP) for the Southern Oregon Education Service District. “Evelyn has so much tenacity—she pays attention to little details and she’s always up for learning more,” said Rodgers.

After graduating from Eagle Point High School, Zaragoza felt she had more to learn before searching for full-time employment. She chose to continue her schooling through the local transition program. “My teacher taught me how to think about what kind of job I wanted. I learned so much about how to work—everything I needed to know,” said Zaragoza. By the time she graduated from the transition program at age 21, she felt ready to take on the working world.

 

Taking a goal step by step

As a transition student, Zaragoza had a paid work experience at Head Start. She learned that she enjoyed working with kids, especially in a way that helped to keep them safe and happy. She also participated in a CPR class, a class on working in a retail shop and a class on using the public bus system. All of those extra classes helped build her skills for living independently and succeeding at her current job.

Her first month on the job was challenging at times, said Zaragoza. “I had so many questions at first, even after training. Then I found a co-worker I could ask. I can also ask my manager questions. Then I learned how to do everything I need to do,” she said. One tip she’d give other transition students as they start a new job is to speak up and ask questions right away, so they learn the job quickly.

Zaragoza also holds her mom up as a role model. “My mom taught me how to help people. She is really good in emergencies and knows what to do,” she said.

Looking down the road, Zaragoza plans to keep working at her current job for many years. If she decides to make a change at some point, it will surely be to another job where she can continue to make people’s days better and safer.

Success Story: Finding strength and focus, with Travis Flores

Meeting challenges and finding new opportunities

Travis Flores didn’t have high expectations when he attended a tour of Rogue Community College (RCC). When he agreed to join the tour, he thought they’d probably spend a lot of time on things that didn’t interest him. As it turned out, that college campus tour has given him a new direction for life after high school.

A year ago, Flores was struggling with online schooling during the pandemic and wasn’t sure he could get enough credits to meet graduation requirements. Today, he’s got his high school diploma and has registered to start classes at RCC this fall. How did Flores find the strength and focus to make it happen?

 

Saying “yes” to new opportunities

The return to in-person school allowed Flores to try some new classes and turn things around during his senior year.

He took an auto mechanics class with an instructor who kept him engaged in learning. “My teacher helped us with everything. We brought in our own vehicles to work on so we could learn how to fix anything,” said Flores.

Flores also signed up for weightlifting, a new sport for him. Not only did it strengthen his muscles, it boosted his confidence.

And he accepted help from his teachers and transition network specialists to make up the credits lost during the pandemic. One member of that team was Melanie Rodgers, youth transition special for the Southern Oregon ESD.

“Once Travis got started on making up those credits, we could see his inner strength growing stronger every day. Everyone cheered when he was able to walk for graduation with his class,” said Rodgers.

A different kind of college tour

Flores joined a tour that RCC created specifically for high school students on IEPs or 504 plans. During the event, the campus disabilities coordinator discussed the differences between the services available to students during high school, and the accommodations available at college. Then the tour visited the diesel mechanics department and Flores was hooked.

“I didn’t expect the tour to have something I was interested in. But when we went into the mechanics area and I saw all the high tech stuff they have and the really big engines, I knew this was what I want to do,” said Flores.

Flores has also registered for a new pilot program called the Inclusive Career Advancement Program, or ICAP. RCC is one of several community colleges across Oregon launching this program. ICAP is aimed at students who are eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation services while they are enrolled in a career training program. It offers both financial help and support for navigating the college system.

For Flores, the ICAP program makes succeeding in the diesel program feel doable. Because his tuition is covered and he knows who to turn to for logistical problems, he can focus on learning. He also can continue to rely on the transition team at the Southern Oregon ESD.

As he takes his next step towards becoming a diesel mechanic, Flores has some advice to offer other transition students. “Sometimes you might think that you don’t need help, but if you are open to help it benefits you. Also, you have to focus on finishing things so that you can move forward,” he said.

 

 

 

Transition Students Get Creative at Shark Tank Student Summit

Transition students get creative in Eastern Oregon

What kind of transition students would jump into a tank full of sharks?

Any creative, fun student who likes to invent things, that’s who!

Last spring, 32 transition students from throughout Eastern Oregon came together for the Invent Yourself Student Summit, a creative learning competition styled after the hit television show Shark Tank.

Over the course of the two-day event, each team of four students brainstormed a product, then designed and built a prototype. The final step was to  present their invention to the shark tank. Just like on the television show, the shark tank is the panel of experts that could reward them with investment dollars.

“This summit brought together all areas of the pre-employment transition skills. Learning to work as a team was one of the students’ biggest takeaways,” said Lon Thornburg, transition network facilitator (TNF) and organizer of the event. Thornberg is already thinking about next year’s summit, and he’s not alone. The students,  community volunteers, mentors and the shark tank panel of experts are also looking forward to Invent Yourself Summit 2023.

 

What can students learn in a shark tank?

Anyone passing by the shark tank summit would have heard a lot of chatter and laughter. If they peeked in they’d have seen tables heaped with model-building materials: cardboard, duct tape, plastic tubing, wires, cups, boxes, balloons and more. These were the sounds and sights of transition students at work, inventing through cooperation and teamwork.

Their task? First, to identify a problem that needed a solution. Second, to invent a product that solves that problem and  build a model from the materials on hand. Finally, the teams must pitch their products to the shark tank panel.

Each student was assigned a specific role. The scribe/notetaker kept track of the brainstorming and ideas, the artist/designer sketched out different possible designs, the engineer/builder took charge of building the model and the marketer/presenter pitched the product  to the panel. While the whole team participated in each part of the process, the different job titles helped each student step into a leadership role at some point.

Between these four roles, students gained skills in time management, working as a team, delegating tasks, problem solving, prioritizing, compromise and self-advocacy. Along the way, they made new friends and had a whole lot of fun.        

 

A different kind of student summit

When Thornberg began planning the student summits for the Intermountain ESD, he wanted to focus on student involvement. He found inspiration in activities he’d seen at a Career and Technical Education conference and at job exploration events for students.

“To make the concept fit into a two-day student summit, I scaled down the intensity of the tasks but kept the elements of a shark tank competition,” said Thornburg.

The teams of students weren’t the only ones who enjoyed the summit. Over 22 community members participated as well. Volunteers came from local businesses and city government, YTP specialists, the Disability Services department at Blue Mountain Community College, the Transition Technical Assistance Network and the Amazon Team in Pendleton.

Speakers from the Amazon team shared stories about their own career paths, and showed their own high school pictures. They discussed their work ethic and how they arrived at the positions they hold today. “It was a fantastic experience for the students, and the volunteers and mentors got just as much out of the event as the students did,” said Thornburg.

Opportunities Abound at Job Fairs in Oregon

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.