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Giving students a passport to excellence

At the beginning of April, nearly 300 students from nine South King County schools gathered for the High School Career Conference. The annual event is hosted by the Auburn Area Chamber of Commerce (AACC), in partnership with WorkSource Washington and the Auburn School District. This year 32 businesses participated in the event.

students, high school career conference, junior achievement centerGuest speaker Slick Watts, the founder of the Watts Basketball Foundation, opened the conference. Watts emphasized education in his speech, saying “Get your education. Get your education. I’m the richest man you’ll ever meet because I got 30 years of education.”

After Watts’ address, students moved through the four different aspects of the conference. Businesses had booths set up in the Junior Achievement Center’s permanent tiny city. These booths allowed students to learn about career opportunities. 

Throughout the day interviews were scheduled. 14 of the participating businesses had hiring opportunities for qualifying students. Students not seeking employment or too young for work experienced mock interviews to build their skills.

Two workshops were presented during the event. Jeremy Fogelquist of CPA firm Johnson Stone and Pagano taught Finance 101. Erin Stewart, Cliff Gocha and Pamela Gladney of Auburn’s WorkSource taught resume building. These workshops build on what students learn in their Career & Technical Education classes. 

students, high school career conference, junior achievement center
Jeremy Fogelquist teaches Finance 101

This year’s conference was the first at the Junior Achievement Center in Auburn. Julia Jordan, CEO of the AACC said that the change of venue from Emerald Downs was a positive one, as it allowed for a better flow of the event. ASD’s Assistant Director of Career & Technical Education Lew Keliher agreed. Keliher added that previously the conference had more components but, “we trimmed the fat to make it simpler. Over the years a bunch of stuff had been added, and [the conference] works better now.”

A fashion show was presented at the end of the conference, as a fun and educational way to conclude the event. Students participating in the fashion show wore contrasting outfits to demonstrate proper attire for an interview. The fashion show premiered in 2017 and was brought back due to its success.

Students completed surveys to provide feedback after the conference. Keliher shared that “over [students] stated they felt the process gave them a better understanding of what companies needed and how to better present their abilities.” Additionally, “more than 20 students felt they were given information and positive reviews from companies to move onto a second level interview.”

To the businesses that participated in the conference: Thank you for supporting our students!

AA Asphalting
Auburn Police Department
Black Diamond Camps
Boeing Company
Cascade Regional Blood Services
CHI Franciscan Health
Icon Materials
Image Craft
Kirby Electric
Kiwanis of Auburn
Orion Industries
Pipe Fitters Unionstudents, junior achievement center,
Ply Gem Windows
Port of Seattle
Puget Sound Energy
Seattle Police Department
Skills Inc
State of Washington Cannabis and Liquor Board
United Natural Goods Inc. (UNFI)
US Army
US National Guard
Uyeta Landscaping
Valley Buick GMC
Valley Regional Fire Dept.
Voy Home Services
Wesley Homes – Lea Hill
WorkSource Auburn

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