Palm Beach School Dis­trict fa­cil­i­tates ca­reer event

South Florida Times - - METRO - By ERICA VAN BUREN

West Palm Beach – For high school stu­dents, de­cid­ing on a ca­reer path be­fore grad­u­at­ing can be over­whelm­ing. The key is know­ing what your op­tions are.

They got a lit­tle help from an an­nual ca­reer event by the Palm Beach County School Dis­trict called Claim Your Fu­ture. The stu­dents had the op­por­tu­nity to lis­ten to in­dus­try pan­elists, net­work with lo­cal and na­tional em­ploy­ers and at­tend a dis­cus­sion on soft skills needed in the work­force, on Feb. 6 at the Palm Beach County Con­ven­tion Cen­ter.

“This event ac­tu­ally gives high school ju­niors and se­niors the abil­ity to net­work with lo­cal Palm Beach County businesses,” says Brit­tany Bilous, a spe­cial­ist in the dis­trict’s Choice and Ca­reer Op­tions Depart­ment. “The great part about it is that businesses not only get to see what the up-and-com­ing gen­er­a­tion has to of­fer in terms of their skills, tal­ents and abil­i­ties, we get the op­por­tu­nity to show stu­dents that there are so many business op­por­tu­ni­ties within their tal­ents, skills and abil­i­ties in spe­cific fields and they should look at Palm Beach County as a place to con­tinue their lives af­ter grad­u­a­tion.”

Many stu­dents go away to col­lege and end up stay­ing where they go to school, tak­ing their tal­ents and abil­i­ties else­where, Bilous said.

Stu­dents were able to par­tic­i­pate in a sem­i­nar about soft skills. “Stu­dents are briefed on the soft skills that are nec­es­sary for the business world. They learn how to dress, how to do a re­sume, how to talk to peo­ple, how to shake hands; that’s all part of the business as­pect.”

The event is bro­ken down by in­dus­try, al­low­ing stu­dents to net­work with each business through­out the con­ven­tion cen­ter. Those in­dus­tries in­cluded: hos­pi­tal­ity and tourism, pub­lic safety and mil­i­tary, life sciences and health­care, elec­tric, se­cu­rity and me­chanic ser­vices, avi­a­tion, aerospace and en­gi­neer­ing, man­u­fac­tur­ing, ed­u­ca­tion, business and fi­nan­cial ser­vices, in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy and en­trepreneur­ship and gov­ern­ment and ca­reer re­sources.

Em­ploy­ers such as the Hil­ton West Palm Beach, Mar­riott Re­sort, the U. S. Army, West Palm Beach Po­lice Depart­ment and the Palm Beach Sher­iff’s Of­fice came out. Many lo­cal post-sec­ondary and state in­sti­tu­tions also par­tic­i­pated, in­clud­ing: Florida Atlantic Uni­ver­sity, Keiser, Palm Beach, Atlantic, Palm Beach State and South Tech­ni­cal Academy.

A new fea­ture this year was In­tro­duc­tion Tech­nol­ogy En­trepreneur­ship, said Bilous. “We rec­og­nize that stu­dents in Palm Beach county have a need for un­der­stand­ing the en­tre­pre­neur­ial world. We know they’re in­ter­ested in app mak­ing, app cre­at­ing, In­sta­gram and Snapchat.”

The dis­trict part­nered with an app com­pany called Two De­grees, which al­lowed the stu­dents and businesses to link and match with one an­other based on ar­eas of in­ter­est. About 700 stu­dents and chap­er­ones at­tended, and about 35 to 40 em­ploy­ers par­tic­i­pated.

“We get to talk to young kids and con­nect with them be­fore they grad­u­ate from high school,” said Whit­ney Cover­stone, As­sem­bly Op­er­a­tions En­gi­neer­ing Su­per­vi­sor, for Pratt & Whit­ney. “We give them an idea of what classes to fo­cus on. So, for Pratt, we’re mainly looking for your S.T.E.M fields – math, sci­ence, physics– those kinds of classes when they’re in high school. If they’re in­ter­ested in those classes, en­gi­neer­ing is a great op­por­tu­nity.”

Stu­dents took ad­van­tage of the ca­reer fair. “It gives you an idea of what’s out there,” said Br’ni­jah Wil­liams Ju­nior at Pa­ho­kee Mid­dle-Senior High School. “Some peo­ple don’t no­tice what’s avail­able un­til they come to events like this; it’s a ben­e­fit to stu­dents.”

PHO­TOS COUR­TESY OF ERICA VAN BUREN FOR SOUTH FLORIDA TIMES

The dis­trict's Choice and Ca­reer Op­tions Depart­ment brings stu­dents and po­ten­tial em­ploy­ers to­gether for net­work­ing and soft skills de­vel­op­ment.

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