On Monday, April 18, William Monroe High School is hosting a careers fair for students and community members to network and learn with representatives from a variety of local businesses. An expo differs from a traditional careers fair in that attendees aren’t so much looking for job placement or interviews as they are encouraged to explore and learn more about different jobs.
“The goal of the event is to introduce students to different job markets and job opportunities — things that they could potentially do as a career either right out of high school or even when they go to college… Students will just want to get into jobs, that they know exist,” said Jess Peregoy, Greene County Tech Center manager and CTE director. “Our job now is to just educate them about all the many different options and possibilities that are out there waiting for them.”
At press time, around 50 employers were scheduled for the event including assisted living facilities, HVAC companies, Piedmont Virginia Community College, machinery, healthcare, banks, UVA facilities management, local fire departments, local military recruits, Greene County Public Schools, Pepsi-Cola, gastronomy and transport and much more.
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“We’re looking for a lot of local businesses – so our kids know you can go to college and come back and be a thriving part of your community here in Greene or the surrounding area,” Peregoy said. “There are many different career clusters and different areas, (so) no matter what your interests are, there will be something for you in our area.”
Virginia Career Works and Piedmont Virginia Community College have both partnered with the school to connect with local businesses, and the Greene County Chamber of Commerce also connects with employers at the event.
“As Director of Career and Technical Education (CTE), my main goal – from a graduate perspective – is the last thing we want for our students to walk through the stage and get their diploma and be like, ‘Now what?’ ‘ Peregoy continued. “We want every student who walks the stage … to have a plan. And I think something like a Career Expo will help students develop that.”
Career Expo isn’t the only opportunity for students to think about the future. In Greene County, students are encouraged to start planning for the future from a young age, and courses in personal finance and technical education can prepare them to be full-fledged members of society after high school.
“We have one-on-one interviews with our students about what you want to do after you graduate? What is your plan? What does that look like?” Peregoi said. “It starts when they’re freshmen and sophomores, so this can’t just be a conversation you have with your seniors.
To give students the best possible foundation for exploring their future, Peregoy says they are beginning to include CTE exploration activities in elementary and middle school, including inviting these students to the technology center to see some of the possibilities that you may be interested in they are getting older. Seventh and tenth graders as well as seniors and other high school students are particularly invited to the Career Expo during their school days.
“Any high school student who is interested in visiting will have the opportunity at some point during the day, but for the core groups that will be part of their curriculum that day,” she said. “And then we’ll open it up to the community once school is out – so 3:30pm to 5:30pm would be an opportunity for anyone in the community interested in coming over and looking at it and networking a little.” . ”
But that doesn’t mean that no job connections will be made at this event.
“Will (companies) have ways to potentially network with candidates as older students want summer jobs or whatever? Sure — that’s definitely on the table,” Peregoy said. “But beyond that, we just want to make sure our kids know what you’re doing. What does your company do? What types of jobs are available to you? Which career cluster does this fall under? So if a student is interested in auto mechanics and that’s something you offer, they have an opportunity to have conversations about what it’s like and to make a connection.”
Instructional trainers Allison Hughes (at middle school) and Jesse Lamm (at high school) will provide preparatory and daytime activities that students can complete while attending Mass to use in later classroom discussions.
“We want our students to speak up and open up and really immerse themselves and explore,” Peregoy said. “Every student must have an academic plan after graduation, which is made through consultation. With that we just go one step further and make sure that we offer opportunities that we haven’t always offered in the past. Part of the excitement for this — especially when you throw in the COVID years — is that they can actually come in and talk to people outside of the school community and make connections and get closer to what’s “normal”… to understand that it is There will be a world outside of this madness and they need to prepare for it.”
The Mass begins at 9:00 am for students and lasts until 5:30 pm (members of the public are welcome from 3:15 to 5:30 pm) and will be held at William Monroe High School, 254 Monroe Drive in Stanardsville.