GlenX: High school career expo graduates to fill fairgrounds
Annual GlenX event on Oct. 15 has outgrown Rifle High School
Just because the GlenX Career Expo will be held at the Garfield County Fairgrounds on Oct. 15 doesn’t mean it’s a job fair.
“We’re not a job fair. We are a career expo, giving opportunities for students to explore and discover,” expo organizer Jayne Poss said.
For the past three years, GlenX and the Aspen Community Foundation have hosted two career expos annually for high school students — one in Glenwood Springs during the spring, and one in Rifle in the fall.
“Future is a big word, and the four years of high school go by really fast. The idea is if students think about their future, they can shape it,” Poss said.
The third annual fall GlenX career expo has outgrown Rifle High School, and for the first time will be at the Garfield County Fairgrounds.
Hosting the expo at the fairgrounds created some unique opportunities. All 1,500 students expected to attend will be able to gather to hear keynote speakers Kathryn Regjo, vice president of academic affairs for Colorado Mountain College, and Corey Ciocchetti, associate professor of business ethics at the University of Denver.
115 businesses will set up booths in the indoor arena, and one of the arenas will be turned into a demonstration space for skilled trades, like plumbing, construction, medical life flight and welding.
“We feel that this is going to be a really great venue for us,” Poss said. Garfield County commissioners waived the fees for GlenX to use the fairgrounds, in addition to providing a $2,500 grant.
Career expos are more than a job fair. For students, it’s an opportunity to explore potential career paths. For businesses, it’s a chance to recruit and get to know the rising workforce.
“The more that (business owners) learn about this generation, the more they can look at how to cultivate and recruit their future workforce,” Poss said.
And there are differences between so-called Gen Z, roughly ages 9-22, and the preceding generation.
A common impression of the millennial workforce, Poss said, is that their expectations are disconnected from their contributions.
According to research from Colorado Workforce, members of Gen Z are hard workers and “take responsibility for driving their own careers.”
Keynote speaker Corey Ciocchetti sees another positive attribute in the rising generation.
“They’re not buying into the lie that they need to work 90 hours a week to make something of life,” Ciocchetti said.
A better-balanced work life is good, but Ciocchetti also sees some problems facing Gen Z.
“At the same time, I think they’re scared about what they’re about to inherit politically and economically,” Ciocchetti said.
Because of the uncertainty, “they don’t really try to figure out what their career will be, and they kind of jump around some,” he added.
Ciocchetti’s message is to find what it means to live an authentic life. “The world kind of lies to us. It tells us if we had more money, you would be happier. We know that’s not true, but people continue to chase it,” he said.
Finding a meaningful career doesn’t necessarily mean students need to work for a nonprofit and try to change the world.
“You can find people who are happy with their jobs in any field,” Ciocchetti said.
The expo attracts a wide range of businesses, from banks to construction to law to restaurants and medicine.
With the extra space available at the fairgrounds, six businesses will set up hands-on demonstrations of technical trades.
Wagner Equipment Co. will bring large earthmoving equipment; Colorado Mountain College will show their welding machines; Esperanza Luna of Los Torres will have a food truck for students to see; and Columbine Ford will bring a truck and computer terminal to demonstrate digital diagnostics in cars.
Classic Air Medical will also bring a helicopter used for emergency medical services.
The schools participating in the expo have made it an occasion for an entire day of career workshops.
After visiting the expo, students will return to their schools for panel discussions from local businesses.
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