Sunday, February 25, 2024

Career Connection Expo is huge hit with vendors, students

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OKANOGAN – The first-ever 2018 Okanogan County/North Central Washington High School Career Connections Expo held at the Okanogan County Fairground Agriplex on Oct. 17, was a success to the extent that future annual Expos are a foregone conclusion.

Through the combined efforts of WorkSource Okanogan County, Career Connect Washington and the North Central Educational Services District high school students from area schools were provided the opportunity to speak to a variety of college, trade, service, military, and business representatives about career options after high school.

Kristi O’Neill a Career Connection Specialist at WorkSource said the Agriplex was full as 82 vendors turned out to speak with some candidates who wanted to gather more information to help them make career choices.

One of those vendors was Sgt. Justin Morris Station Commander with the Washington National Guard who traveled from Moses Lake to attend the Expo.

“It’s the best Expo I’ve even been to,” said Morris, “and I’ve been doing this for 12 years.”

Morris said he made 51 contacts and has scheduled 10 follow-up interviews. One of those will be with Brewster High School junior Gabe Garcia. Garcia, a volunteer fireman with Douglas-Okanogan County Fire District 6 already has first-hand experience related to fire and rescue missions.

Garcia said he can sign up with the Guard as a junior, complete some of his training through his senior year.

“I want to be stationed in Moses Lake, so they will send me there,” said Garcia. “Then I can attend college there and they will pay me to go to college.”

Garcia said while he’s pursuing a degree in criminal justice and paramedic he will also be part of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and will emerge as a first lieutenant in the National Guard.

Garcia said learning about the Guard at the Career Expo helped him find a way to stay near home, pursue a career of his choice, and secure the financial means to pay for his education.

Sgt. Morris said the Okanogan Expo has spurred his interests to have a regular presence in the county.

“The military doesn’t have a presence in Okanogan County,” Morris said so he is working to arrange regular hours in Omak. He will be at the WorkSource office at 126 S. Main Street from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Nov. 6-8.

O’Neill said the enthusiastic response from both vendors and students to the first Career Expo in the county guarantees that further such annual gatherings will be in the works.

O’Neill can be reached at 509-826-7555 or email KROneill@esd.wa.gov.

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