Othello career showcase to bring employers and students together

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OTHELLO — Students from the Othello School District will have a chance to meet potential employers at the Othello Career Showcase Oct. 18 at Othello High School, where local businesses and agencies will set up interactive booths for students to experience diverse career opportunities both abroad and at home.

“As long as you have good skills, many companies around here will pay for a student’s education, and you can end up working all over the world,” said Amy Parris, the school district’s Director of School to Career. “But we also want to show kids that you don’t have to leave the Othello area to find fantastic jobs.”

Between 30 and 35 local businesses or agencies are already signed up, Parris said, and organizers are still working to include more exhibitors. 2018 will be the second year the district will be holding the showcase, and exhibitor participation is already well above the 25 from 2017’s inaugural event.

“It was a lot of fun last year, a lot of energy,” Parris said. “A lot of employers sent employees that had graduated from Othello High School. That’s fun for our kids, it’s good for them to recognize people that look like them that have had a good experience.”

Students from 8-12 grade will attend the event, and about 1,500 students cycled through the showcase last year. Students develop “passports” at the event, receiving stamps from as many workshops as possible and providing feedback to school administrators about which organizations they’d like to hear more from.

High school seniors also get an opportunity to meet with employers in careers they’d like to be the focus of their senior projects, which requires a four-hour visit to a job site relevant to their chosen career. This can prove difficult for students interested in many career paths, Parris said, particularly those involved in the arts, and organizers hope to bring wider range of employers so students have more opportunities when completing their projects.

The event also provides an opportunity for students to exercise important soft skills, like talking with employers and networking, Parris said.

Exhibitors include not just potential employers, but also representatives from institutions of higher learning like Columbia Basin Technical Skills Center and Big Bend Community College. Last year’s event featured drones, video game design, welding, culinary programs and a simulated body used by CBTech for medical programs, Parris said.

“Those kids have a golden ticket into professional programs after high school that will take them wherever they want,” Parris said. “A lot of the skill-based programs have articulations at Big Bend, so kids are set.”

The event is organized through a partnership between the school district and the Othello Industry Council, a branch of the Adams County Economic Development Council.

“They have the needs and we have the kids, so this program works as a way to bridge the two,” Parris said. “It’s been a great partnership, and being a rural high school, we have to bring in opportunities that show our kids that there’s a lot out there.”

Event organizers are accepting applications from exhibitors until Oct. 5. Interested parties can sign up by contacting Stephen McFadden, Economic Development Director for the Development Council, at 509-331-2025.

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