CANTON More than 1,200 high school students from 18 districts in St. Lawrence and Lewis counties dressed to impress Wednesday for the 21st annual Gateways to Careers event, where the teens practiced job interviews with more than 70 business professionals.
The event at SUNY Canton Roos House was sponsored by the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services. BOCES Supervisor of Instructional Resources Rachelle E. Romoda organizes the event each year.
She said the students got to choose whatever business they were most interested in and conducted a mock interview with professionals representing that business. Business representatives critiqued the students on their professionalism and discussed their companies with them.
Communication, collaboration and interpersonal skills are what the students are hearing about this morning, Ms. Romoda said. The sooner we can help our students and the young people we work with understand the importance of being able to communicate and being ready, willing and able to work as part of a team, the better suited they will be for going on to college or the workforce.
The businesses covered a wide variety of professions, from the military to the food industry, colleges and health care.
All this is about giving the students pointers to be successful, whether theyre interviewing at a college or for a job, Ms. Romoda said.
Tessia J. Sabourin, a senior from Lisbon Central School, said she is interested in going into the child care field after she graduates.
Im glad our school made us dress up and look nice and professional for all of us to go out into the real world, she said.
Marcy J. Tyler is a guidance counselor for Harrisville Central School. She said her school brought 25 juniors and 18 seniors to the career fair.
Its a wonderful way for students to get started in the job search area, she said. We do a whole day of preparations at Harrisville, so we have students write resumes and cover letters and practice filling out job applications.
Ms. Tyler said its important for students to get feedback from professionals in the field on how well they interview for a job.
Ive had students tell me that its one of the best things they get to do in high school, she said. Many of them are very anxious, nervous and hesitant to do their first interview, but by the time we leave they feel excited and confident.
Chris A. Sullivan, Brandon J. Fuller and Logan J. Thomas are juniors from Harrisville who waited in line for an interview with representatives of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry Ranger School, Wanakena.
They said they take a BOCES environmental technology class and have an interest in forestry, heavy equipment and horticulture.
This event is something new to try that will get us ready for the world, Mr. Sullivan said.
Shanice J. Wallace was beaming when she left an interview with Mary Kay consultant Joan M. Hyde, DeKalb.
Miss Wallace, a senior at Ogdensburg Free Academy, said she hopes to become a licensed cosmetologist in June, after she finishes her training at Northwest Technical Center.
Ms. Hyde talked about so many things with me that I just cant wait to finally start, Miss Wallace said. Its broadened my range of what there actually is out there.
Gouverneur Central School Superintendent Lauren F. French said the feedback students receive from the event is an important benefit for their futures.
Being able to sit with a potential employer and have a real-life application makes it that much more meaningful to the student, Ms. French said. You just cant replace that opportunity.