Career Expo Encourages CPS Students to Take Charge of Their Futures

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At the first Business-Education Connectivity Council-CPS Career Expo, high school students were the interviewers, asking representatives from 30 regional businesses about career pathways into their companies and industries.

A student interviews a firefighter, and even gets to check out some of the equipment.

A student interviews a firefighter, and even gets to check out some of the equipment.

This was no ordinary job fair for more than 300 eleventh-graders from Cincinnati Public Schools’ Dater, Gamble and Aiken high schools who attended on November 17, 2015, at Xavier University.

“Our students get glimpses of what different jobs or careers might be like from their parents or out in the public, but this gives them a chance to do in-depth ‘window shopping’ into career options,” said Stephen Sippel, principal of Dater High. “It’s new for our students to meet professionals in this venue and context; it has the potential to change their lives.”

Ezra Cline, from Gamble, wanted to learn more about career options for mechanical engineers.

“I know I want to be an engineer, but I’m not sure what jobs are available,” he said.

The Expo was part of a yearlong pilot program called CPS Pro — Proactive, Proficient Professionals — designed to give students a leg-up on career preparation. CPS Pro was developed in partnership with the Business-Education Connectivity Council (BECC), which is charged with engaging businesses to participate in real-world career-readiness activities for students.

Students listen intently as professionals share details about their careers.

Students listen intently as professionals share details about their careers.

CPS Pro — part of the district’s My Tomorrow initiative aimed at ensuring that all CPS students graduate ready to pursue career paths of their choice — is being rolled out as a pilot program at the three high schools. It will be expanded to all CPS high schools in coming years.

Students used the Expo to learn more about how to get on track to their favorite careers starting in high school and into postsecondary education.

“I wanted to come here today and use this as a networking opportunity,” said Iyanah Smith, from Dater High, who is interested in a career in human services. “I know what I want to do, but I don’t know how to put it all together.”

While students gained insight that will help shape college and career plans, the business community also benefited. Chris Fridel, assistant director of the Electrical Training Center, saw the Expo as a chance to help fill a regional market skills gap.

“In construction, we’re looking at a skills gap in the future, and not a lot of kids look at construction as a viable option,” he said.

To help change this perception, Fridel talked to students about apprenticeships in the construction industry.

Other businesses saw potential to bolster the region’s future talent pipeline.

“We have a lot of different positions and different facets of our business, from hourly positions to our management trainee program,” said Matt Disher, military recruiting program manager for Cintas. “We are planting the seed to let students know that we are here, and that we have opportunities now and into the future.”

News 5's Kyla Woods was on hand to talk about what it's like to be a television reporter.

News 5’s Kyla Woods was on hand to talk about what it’s like to be a television reporter.

The Expo is part of a yearlong pilot program called CPS Pro — Proactive, Proficient Professionals — designed to give students a leg-up on career preparation. CPS Pro was developed in partnership with the Business-Education Connectivity Council (BECC), which is charged with engaging businesses to participate in real-world career readiness activities for students.

CPS Pro — part of the district’s My Tomorrow initiative aimed at ensuring that all CPS students graduate ready to pursue career paths of their choice — is being rolled out as a pilot program at the three high schools during the 2015-16 school year. It will be expanded to all CPS high schools in coming years.

“Today is about showing kids there are opportunities out there beyond what they think,” said Doug Adams, vice president of PNC Bank and chair of the BECC. “The need is there, the desire from students is there, and the importance to our business community is clearly shown by those who stepped up to participate.”

Adams noted that the Expo is just the first step of the BECC’s ambitious plans for connecting students with regional businesses. Four more opportunities to give students real-world views of career pathways and job preparation are planned through this school year.

More about CPS Pro, including upcoming opportunities for business involvement.

More about My Tomorrow.

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