Career fair shows students how to get to future jobs

MONROE — About 1,000 students filled the Evergreen State Fairgrounds Events Center on Tuesday for a career fair designed to help them prepare for good-paying jobs.

The Build Your Future event was organized by the Workforce Development Council Snohomish County. It aimed to encourage students in middle and high schools to consider careers in construction and advanced manufacturing.

The program urged students to enroll in more math, science, technology and engineering classes.

The fair focused on hands-on activities, allowing students to experience how what they learn in the classroom relates to real world work.

“I liked that they showed how to do things instead of just talking about them,” said 16-year-old Genesis Ramirez, a junior at the alternative school Leaders in Learning in Monroe.

Genesis was taught how to safely switch off the power on a mocked-up transformer at the Snohomish County Public Utility District booth.

“It’s fun to do something new, and it’s something girls don’t usually do,” Genesis said.

Before coming to the fair, she only was considering a nursing career. Now, she said, there are more options.

Students from 21 area schools attended the event, including Monroe, Kamiak and Mariner high schools.

It was the first time the Workforce Development Council had organized such a broadly focused event. Up until recently, it had hosted a career fair focused solely on the construction industry, spokeswoman Heather Villars said.

“The goal is for the students to know what careers are available,” Villars said.

Among other things, students were able to try their hands at making a tool box from hammered steel. Other activities focused on installing electrical wiring, fitting windows and operating heavy machinery using a computer simulator.

There were about 15 booths at the event representing companies such as Boeing and Saxton Bradley Inc., of Renton, and community colleges such as North Seattle Community College.

The event made Jimmy Bruton, 17, think he could one day land a job in Boeing.

“It made me realize that everyone can do it,” said Bruton, a Granite Falls High School senior. “It showed that there are steps you can take to be there.”

It also helped Charlie Van Slageren, 17, realize there are more job options in the area than he thought.

“There are a vast number of work opportunities out there besides logging and farming,” said the junior at the Sno-Isle TECH Skills Center in Everett.

Kristin Parker, education manager for Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, said the event was a good way to reach young people and tell them about opportunities in the construction industry.

“We are telling them about the jobs in construction that are good paying jobs,” Parker said. “There is a shortage of young workers. They are not getting enough training.”

Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; adominguez@heraldnet.com.

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