Photo: Before school programs were shuttered in 2020, Las Cruces Public Schools’ Academic Career Experience (ACE) division hosted student job fairs and career-readiness opportunities for students. The ACE team will host its first-ever virtual Youth Opportunity Fair on Saturday, April 17. Area businesses with opportunities for students are encouraged to attend the fair.
Career specialists with Las Cruces Public Schools’ Career Readiness and Student Success division are creating opportunities for students who are ready to go to work – even before they graduate from high school.
The Youth Opportunity Fair will happen virtually on Saturday, April 17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Zoom. Jeff Waugh, an LCPS career specialist, says the fair will introduce students to potential employers through virtual interviews.
“This is the first opportunity we’ve had to engage our students with the interview experience,” said Waugh. “Last summer, we had in-person job fairs scheduled at the high schools, but – like most of 2020 – that was canceled, and we had to get creative.”
Part of that creativity has come in the form of fashion. Waugh, along with staff in Career and Technical Education (CTE), collaborated with Dillard’s and H&M stylists to establish Dress for Success, a career-focused closet at each of the high schools in the district.
“Giving students the resources to be successful starts before the interview,” said Waugh. “Knowing what to wear and how to carry yourself is part of being a good job candidate.”
According to Waugh, CTE works with students as early as sixth grade.
“What we’ve learned is that kids make decisions on careers in the third and fourth grade,” added Waugh. “So when they get to high school, they already have an idea of what a career pathway looks like. We need to be ready to accommodate that.”
In addition to interviews and wardrobe options, Waugh says the Youth Opportunity Fair can help students obtain a work permit if they are 15 years old, write a resume or apply for an apprenticeship.
“Not all students plan to attend college after high school,” said Waugh, who added that LCPS graduates approximately 1,200 students each year. “And there are great opportunities for them in the trades. As a junior or senior, these students can take classes through CTE that will certify them – as an electrician, for example – in six years.”
Waugh is part of LCPS’s Academic Career Experience (ACE) team, along with Michael Ogas, Rachel Knight, and Sonja Quintero. the department is supervised by Carrie Hernandez.
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