Chamber pilot Career Planning Fair soars in educating Denton’s future workforce

The 2013-2014 program year marked the first annual Career Planning Fair for the Denton Chamber of Commerce.

In November, local high school sophomores and juniors filed into the LaGrone Advanced Technology Complex to begin their adventure of exploring local colleges and career options.

Students gather in the Advanced Technology Complex lobby

Since the initial planning stages, the Chamber’s goals of the fair were to educate students on careers offered in Denton, by highlighting top industries, and to promote programs available to obtain those careers at our local universities.

Thanks to the combined educational partnerships of Denton ISD, Texas Woman’s University, University of North Texas and North Central Texas College, the pilot Career Planning Fair took flight.

Booths from the educational sponsors as well as professional sponsors- Peterbilt, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, City of Denton, Denton Regional Medical Center, Labinal and Sally Beauty Holdings Inc. surrounded the technology complex’s lobby.

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital informing students about career opportunities

Denton Regional Medical Center teaching students at the Career Planning Fair

As buses began to arrive, students were directed to the lecture hall to listen to the keynote address from District 4 Denton City Councilman Joey Hawkins.

Students reading over information at the Career Planning Fair

Students learning about educational and professional opportunities in Denton

Hawkins began working as a businessman when he was 18-years-old. Since then, he has managed and owned several businesses including local cafes like Jupiter House and Royal’s Bagels.

“This event might change one of these kid’s lives and that’s the whole goal of this thing,” Hawkins said. “Start thinking about things younger and younger.”

As he spoke and interacted with the students, Hawkins provided details about how he began his career while he was in high school.

Keynote speaker Joey Hawkins discussing his career path at the Career Planning Fair

Joey Hawkins providing advice on how to operate and manage a business

“Get going now. Don’t wait. Get to school. Work hard and have fun,” Hawkins said. “There is joy in that exhaustion.”

Following the keynote address, high school sophomores and juniors were directed to various classrooms where they had the opportunity to hear from panelists in a wide variety of professional fields including business, health care, creative arts and humanities, education, law enforcement, social services, science, technology, engineering and math.

Health care professionals discussing career opportunities

Students also heard from panelists representing UNT, TWU and NCTC. Not only did the teens gain educational and professional career advice through these panel discussions, but they were encouraged to ask any questions they had.

Ryan High School junior Mitzy Gonzalez said she has already been thinking about her future career, but has needed help on deciding what college to attend.

Mitzy Gonzalez learning about educational opportunities in Denton

“If you start thinking about your career too late, then you won’t be able to take the right tests or register for the right classes,” Gonzalez said. “Events like this are helping me make up my mind about college and figuring out a class schedule.”

For those students who do not know what career path they want to take, Sally Beauty Holdings Inc. Human Resource Director Annette Igl encourages them to take different classes while in school. She says this will help them develop a better understanding of a variety of professional fields.

Annette Igl discussing career opportunities at Sally Beauty Holdings Inc.

 “Young people don’t have to choose a major right away and stick with it,” Igl said. “When you explore and develop a passion for a specific career, you excel in it.”

The opportunities for an excellent education and a future career in Denton are immense. The Denton Chamber of Commerce would like to thank all of the sponsors, panelists, moderators and volunteers who participated in this event.

The Denton Chamber of Commerce looks forward to growing this initiative in future years as a means of helping Denton ISD students make better informed decisions about their future as well as providing Denton businesses with a strong and qualified workforce.

Those interested in participating in the second annual Career Planning Fair are encouraged to contact the Chamber at (940) 382-9693.

by: Brianna Vela

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