Career Expo helps students find career options and fields with growing job availability

Career Expo sign explains the different career pathways in Kern County.

Miranda Defoor, Reporter

Kern County Career Expo held the first annual career event at the Rabobank Convention Center. Thousands of students and their parents came out to the open and free event aimed at current students and recent graduates on Feb 22. The career expo was created to help students learn about different career options and fields with growing job availability in Bakersfield and Kern County. It also aimed to help students know what type of education they may need for a specific career or field. The Kern High School District put together the event with assistance from the Bakersfield College Career Expo Committee.

The Career Expo is focused on identifying one of 15 pathways in Kern County for students who are interested in different career fields, unlike a job fair in which attendees bring resumes and hope to leave with a job. The career pathways available at BC are Agriculture and Natural Resources, Arts, Media and Communication, Business Management and Information Technology, Engineering and Industrial Technology, Health Services, and Public and Human Services.

Different businesses and employers like Halliburton, Golden Empire Transit, American Airlines, Dollar General, California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Police Department and Kern County Human Resources had booths set up at the expo. BC, Cal State University Bakersfield, Bakersfield Adult School, and Brightwood College had booths as well.

The idea was developed from Brian Miller, an administrator at the Kern High School District Regional Occupational Center, along with a professional development committee. The committee attended a Fresno career expo and wanted to bring that type of career exploration to Kern County, according to Anthony Cordova, program director for Careers and Technical Education at BC. The concept for the career expo started in October 2017 and took three months of planning. The concept was followed by marketing and advertising for vendors through December and January.

“The intent is not to get jobs or for vendors to be hiring,” Cordova said, “We want to have students explore what careers they may enjoy.”

Along with the entire convention center of booths and vendors, there were outdoor vendors and demonstrations like the Bakersfield Police Department SWAT and Kern County Fire Department fire truck, as well as activities and a workshop.

Each attendee was given a booklet with three activities: a scavenger hunt, a making connections challenge, and a career expo survey. By completing the activities, students were able to get raffle tickets to win prizes later. Students were incentivized to go to the workshop because they would gain another, extra, raffle ticket.

The 15 minute workshop about career preparedness was held in the Marriott, in a room that could hold 80 people for each session of the workshop. During the workshop volunteers taught the attendees about making a good first impression. The volunteers explained the venue map and had suggestions for what students could ask different employers to make connections with them. Each career preparedness workshop taught the students how to have the confidence to make these impressions and connections with future employers or educators.