It had been nearly 15 years since the last time that Ames High hosted a career fair for students. That changed on February 6, 2018 when all ninth grade students were able to explore a variety of career pathways from more than 25 different businesses in Ames.

Ames High Business Teacher Vicki Hales led the organization of the career fair, but each department was represented as a part of the planning committee. The career fair replaced the students’ regular class schedule and included booths that students could explore while a number of sessions were being led by community members in the classrooms. Those sessions discussed a range of topics that included the importance of developing the 21st Century skills of communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. Others explained what soft skills employers seek in potential employees such as being on time, taking risks, continually improving, treating others respectfully, learning from mistakes, using appropriate technology to communicate, adapting to changing requirements, setting goals, taking initiative, and modeling global awareness.

“The community really rallied around the idea of this event. Many businesses and employers want to get in front of high school students, so many jumped at the opportunity to get involved,” said Hales. The entire cost of the event was supported by local businesses. Over $3,400 was raised through sponsors and this helped cover the cost of lunch for freshman students and presenters, and t-shirts for students. Silver level sponsors included Story Construction, DMACC, Todd & Sargent, Wilson Toyota, and Vision Bank, while Black level sponsors were WorkinAmes, VenuWorks, and Duane A. Wolf Engineering.

Teachers volunteered their time during the event, as did many students who are actively involved in the Business Engagement Collaborative (BEC) program. BEC students, who are juniors and seniors, helped with many of the logistics of the day. Those included taking attendance at each session and helping answer questions that freshmen and presenters had.

The planning committee anticipates expanding the career fair next year to include both freshman and juniors. This move would ensure that future Ames High students will explore career opportunities twice in their high school career. That day, which is tentatively set for October, will also host a financial literacy seminar for seniors as they prepare their post-secondary plans, while sophomores participate in career simulations at DMACC.