PORT TOWNSEND — Dozens of Port Townsend High School juniors and seniors made connections with 27 local businesses during the inaugural career fair organized by school district officials.
Friday afternoon from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the high school gymnasium, the students walked throughout the room where a variety of business owners provided them with information regarding starting salaries, training and other opportunities they offer high school graduates.
Among the employers were Washington State Ferries, Jefferson County Public Utility District, Jefferson Healthcare, East Jefferson Fire Rescue and Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building.
Port Townsend High School counselor Kiley Gard spearheaded the organization of the event.
“It’s something we’ve been actively connecting with employers for the last month or two,” Gard said. “The long-term goal is to foster community partnerships with local employers to help strengthen not only the businesses but also to help our students, where college may not be an option for them, have a foot in the door for a job after high school.”
Port Townsend High School has approximately 200 combined juniors and seniors. Students from OCEAN, Jefferson Community School and Quilcene High School were expected to be there as well, Gard said.
Throughout the event, small pods of students walked from table to table talking with representatives of the different businesses.
Assistant Fire Chief Brian Tracer of East Jefferson Fire Rescue drew a crowd when he helped Port Townsend senior Wes Blue put on his fire-fighting gear — minus the air tank — to see how it feels.
“It’a a good thing for us to be here,” Tracer said. “It’s kind of fun to have these events and say hi to everyone.”
By 1:40 p.m., the department already had talked with about 20 interested students, Tracer said.
Senior Ellienne Thornton found the career fair interesting and appreciated the opportunity.
“I feel like it’s a good opportunity for kids to get involved with the community,” Thornton said.
Washington State Ferries port captain Jay Mooney and recruiter Cori Shull manned the company’s booth at the fair.
“It’s always fun talking to the high schoolers,” Shull said. “They hear how awesome we are and how awesome our jobs are and hopefully we can recruit some.
“[There’s been] a pretty good amount of interest I think. People are shocked by how easy it is to start with us right out of high school.”
Junior Jordan Lang was glad to make a connection with the construction company G. Little Construction and also visited with Fredrickson Electric as well.
“I’m a 17-year-old looking for jobs,” Lang said. “What would suit me best is G. Little Construction. …I have a little bit of construction experience and I think working with them would really benefit me.”
Gard is already planning for the future of the following career fairs.
“I think for our first year this has gone pretty smoothly,” Gard said. “I’m already taking feedback from employers for next year.
“We’re planning on making this an annual event. From here going forward we’re looking to expand each year, just getting better and better.”
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected].