A different type of career fair

MiCareerQuest shows kids opportunity, not openings

News Photo by Julie Goldberg Students use a virtual reality machine to weld equipment Tuesday at a MiCareerQuest event at the Industrial Arts Institute in Onaway.

ONAWAY — Over 1,500 students were in Onaway on Tuesday to learn about different high-demand jobs in Northeast Michigan.

Middle and high school students from 24 schools in 11 counties — Alcona, Alpena, Presque Isle, Montmorency, Cheboygan, Crawford, Iosco, Ogemaw, Oscoda, Otsego, and Roscommon — attended MiCareerQuest at the Industrial Arts Institute to talk to business representatives about what jobs are out there and to see what sparks their interest.

The event had representatives from health care, construction, manufacturing, and technology fields in attendance to talk to students. The students were able to practice on demonstration equipment and interact with those in the workforce.

Alicia Wallace, marketing manager for Michigan Works! Northeast Consortium, said every school in the region was invited to the event.

“The whole point of this is to get kids to be able to do something a little bit hands-on to experience what the different careers and industries are about,” Wallace said. “We wanted to show them careers so that they don’t move away.”

Wallace said some local businesses weren’t able to be at the event because they’re short-staffed, and she said that speaks to the need of developing talent in the area.

Students were able to interact with people at the event, and Wallace said that helps them learn about a day in the life at a job, what type of education is needed for the job in which they’re interested, and what that job entails.

Wallace said the event was different than a job or career fair, because the businesses were told to not talk about open positions. They were told to talk about the jobs they had information on and what it takes for someone to succeed in that job.

“They thought they were coming to a job fair or the standard career fair, and this is not like that,” Wallace said. “We invited all the local community colleges, the apprentice programs, to let kids know, here’s how you take this pathway in case you are interested.”

The event Tuesday was modeled after a similar event that has happened in Grand Rapids for the past five years. Wallace said the events have now spread across the state.

“There’s really something for everyone,” she said. “I know we’ve had some students (say), ‘Oh, I didn’t want to go because it’s manufacturing,’ but no, it’s definitely not. There’s so many different things. There’s so many different career paths at every business around.”

Julie Goldberg can be reached at 989-358-5688 or jgoldberg@thealpenanews.com. Follow her on Twitter @jkgoldberg12.


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