The district’s Choice and Career Options Department brings students and potential employers together for networking and soft skills development.
By ERICA VAN BUREN
Special to South Florida Times
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 MiddleSenior High School. “Some people don’t notice what’s available until they come to events like this; it’s a benefit to students.”