Woodland High School’s Job Ready Career Fair connects local businesses with students

Employers were impressed with the students' professionalism and engagement. Photo courtesy Woodland School District
Employers were impressed with the students’ professionalism and engagement. Photo courtesy Woodland School District

Event is designed to show the career opportunities available throughout the region

Woodland High School and the Port of Woodland’s first Job Ready Career Fair since the pandemic gave the high school’s more than 750 students the opportunity to engage with dozens of employers, business owners, and post-secondary educational programs to explore potential careers and paths for life after graduating high school on Thursday, March 30.

Woodland Public Schools’ goal is to prepare every graduate to directly enter a career or start continuing education. “Woodland’s community of businesses shows huge support for students, by educating them on what the jobs of the future look like,” said Asha Riley, assistant superintendent for Woodland Public Schools. “When graduates find their place in the world where they can contribute their talents, knowledge, and skills in meaningful work, the community benefits as a whole.” 

A joint partnership between Woodland Public Schools and the Port of Woodland, the Job Ready Career Fair introduces students to a wide variety of industries from the community. Photo courtesy Woodland School District
A joint partnership between Woodland Public Schools and the Port of Woodland, the Job Ready Career Fair introduces students to a wide variety of industries from the community. Photo courtesy Woodland School District

Employers who attended the fair included representatives from law enforcement, Cowlitz County, ilani Casino, USNR, Red Canoe Credit Union, as well as career training post-secondary education like NECA-IBEW, the electrical training center, the Ironworkers, and many others. Students engaged with employers, learned about different career industries, and asked questions about how to pursue potential career paths.

Before each class met with employers, Asha Riley and Vicky Barnes, Woodland’s Human Resources director, spoke with students about how to approach potential employers, how to keep an open mind when considering career paths, and how to present as an applicant to a potential employer, “Remember that these employers are volunteering their time to be here with us,” explained Barnes. “Even if you don’t think you’d like to work at a particular institution, you can still learn so much by simply having a conversation to learn more about exactly what it is a company does.” 

All Woodland High School students attended the career fair where they engaged with area businesses. Photo courtesy Woodland School District
All Woodland High School students attended the career fair where they engaged with area businesses. Photo courtesy Woodland School District

Employers were impressed with the students’ professionalism, noting that they gave solid handshakes, made eye contact and showed genuine interest in learning about potential career opportunities. “The importance of career fairs for high school students cannot be overstated,” said Riley. “For many students, high school is a time of exploration and self-discovery, and career fairs provide an opportunity to explore potential career paths and learn about the education and training required to pursue those careers.”

Riley also expressed gratitude towards the business leaders who made an extra effort to engage with students who were shy and anxious during the event. “They were warm and kind to every student who approached them,” she said. “I saw one of our quietest students gain confidence and even stayed through two sessions to visit with more businesses after breaking the ice with the first few. I decided they could miss the next class if they were that brave and engaging that well.”

Before each entered the fair, Assistant Superintendent Asha Riley and Human Resources Director Vicky Barnes gave students tips about how to interact with potential employers. Photo courtesy Woodland School District
Before each class entered the fair, Assistant Superintendent Asha Riley and Human Resources Director Vicky Barnes gave students tips about how to interact with potential employers. Photo courtesy Woodland School District

Jennifer Wray-Keene, executive director of the Port of Woodland, emphasized the importance of preparing students for their future by exploring career opportunities within their own region. “By learning about the many industries in the region, this strengthens the Port industry and ties with the Woodland community,” she said. “The career fair also highlights the importance of providing a vast array of industries and opportunities that meet the goals and interests of Woodland students, as well as supporting regional industries with local students to provide opportunities for job shadowing, internships, apprenticeships, and/or jobs.”

Career fairs help students understand the connection between their education and their future careers. By interacting with professionals from various industries, students can see how the skills and knowledge they are gaining in school can be applied in real-world settings. “Career fairs provide an opportunity for students to develop their professional skills, such as networking, communication, and interviewing,” said Riley. “By engaging with potential employers and asking insightful questions, students can build their confidence and gain valuable experience that will serve them well in their future careers.”

Photo courtesy Woodland School District
Photo courtesy Woodland School District

Career fairs also expose students to a wide range of career options. Many students enter high school with limited knowledge of the careers available to them, and career fairs provide an opportunity to learn about industries they may not have considered before. Additionally, career fairs can help students identify potential mentors and networking contacts. “By engaging with professionals in their desired field, students can build relationships that may be beneficial in their future job searches or career advancement,” said Wray-Keene.

Employers interested in participating in future Job Ready Career Fairs may contact Deborah Wornick via email at wornickd@woodlandschools.org.

Learn more about how Woodland Public Schools educates students and serves the community by visiting the dedicated news webpage at www.woodlandschools.org/news/wsd

Information provided by Woodland Public Schools.


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