Part of Sheba Coffey’s new job as a student learning advocate at Anoka-Hennepin School District 11’s Compass Programs includes bringing in speakers and resources about postsecondary options and employment.
To help meet this goal, Coffey, with support from the NorthWest Suburban Integration School District, hosted a career fair Dec. 7 for Compass and other Anoka-Hennepin students.
Compass helps meet the learning and behavior needs of students who are in transition because of change or crisis in their lives.
The intent of Compass is to maintain students’ academic progress while providing support and guidance to help them gain the stability and independence necessary to integrate successfully back into their neighborhood school.
According to Coffey, the goal of the career fair was to give students experience, exposure and direction.
More than 30 people participated in the career fair representing careers including law, cosmetology, athletic training, computers and manufacturing.
Compass staff helped prep students by showing videos of career fairs so they knew what one looked like and what to expect.
“We talked to them about introducing themselves, offering a firm handshake with eye contact, dressing appropriately, how important it is to make a great first impression, the importance of networking, being memorable, following up by using thank you cards and the importance of thanking them for their time,” Coffey said.
“In addition, the students have been role playing and doing research on the participating companies.”
Coffey hopes the experience helped students gain confidence in these types of situations, as well as sharpen their communication and interpersonal skills, she said.
It was also an opportunity to help students think about life after they leave Compass, according to Coffey.
“The takeaways that I hope the students will have are to think about what careers they might be interested in, learn what type of education is required as well as help guide them in choosing both careers, electives and life choices and to be open to the possibilities,” Coffey said.
“Students need to think of ways to maximize opportunities, make themselves valuable to employers and exhibit and practice leadership regularly.”
Coffey sees Compass students as smart and bursting with potential.
“Some students need to see the ‘big picture;’ whatever they are experiencing in life right now is temporary and their lives can be bigger and better than their wildest dreams as long as they work hard,” she said.
“In addition, it’s important for me that students realize they will have multiple careers in their life time, therefore they should be open to careers and ideas they may have never considered.”
For the adults taking part in the career fair, Coffey hopes they remembered what it was like when they were the students’ age and that they offered the students advice, encouragement and meaningful, valuable tips to help them prepare for careers, education and separate themselves from the competition.
Valerie Ingram, an investigator with the Internal Revenue Service, said she participated in the career fair because it’s always important to show students what careers are out there.
She was excited to share with students the different types of federal jobs and the work that she does, according to Ingram.
Ingram, who has a degree in accounting and a master’s in business administration, has been a criminal investigator for about eight years.
Scott Hoke, a real estate and business attorney from Champlin, looked forward to talking with students about what it takes to get to be a lawyer.
“I will tell them that they need to get good grades, love to read and have a lot of discipline to go through seven or more years of college and law school,” Hoke said.
Bryan Krieger works in manufacturing for Medtronic in Brooklyn Center.
Krieger said his advice to students was to get an entry level job, have a good work ethic and work their way up.
He could speak to this because it’s what he’s done at Medtronic, according to Krieger.
“I started out as a contractor for Medtronic and then I got hired onto the second shift,” Krieger said.
“Medtronic offers a lot of educational and promotional opportunities. I was encouraged by management to go to school and be a leader on the floor.
“Hopefully I’ll keep on growing. Medtronic is an excellent company to work for.”