The scene inside the South Garner High School media center on Thursday looked much like a business expo, and it almost was one.
Participating vendors were there for the Trojan Business Alliance job fair, catered specifically to Garner High School seniors. For about 45 of those students, however, the event was the culmination of a workforce-readiness program that no Wake County public school had implemented for decades.
Joy Frankoff, the district’s school-to-career coordinator, said the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce helped organized a similar program for all Wake students in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
“There’s been nothing done like that since,” Frankoff said. “Garner is the first school to do something of this magnitude since then.”
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The business alliance, made up of school, town and business leaders, recruited vendors for the event.
It was open to any Garner High senior who wanted to get in some face time with the vendors, and it gave the students the opportunity to submit resumes and job applications.
The 45 students participating in the Senior Employment Initiative had been preparing for the job fair for several months. The program came in five phases: resume writing and job applications, dressing for success, interview preparation, mock interviews and revision.
“We have students in here who are going to four-year colleges, but they wanted to learn those skills,” said Lisa Daughenbaugh, the school’s career-development coordinator. “Unfortunately, many kids go to college and never learn how to interview or how to write a resume.”
Garner High senior Grayson Sauls had on his business attire as he moved through the job fair and engaged vendors in conversation.
“I’d like to do college after (high school), so maybe I can get a part-time job and help pay for it,” he said.
Sauls works part-time now but still turned in a couple of applications. He said he is a hands-on person who likes being outdoors, so some of the vendors caught his eye.
“It was quite interesting,” Sauls said. “You don’t get to see so many construction companies out in the open like that.”
Frankoff said making acquaintances like those Sauls made on Thursday can help people keep their options open in the future.
“It may be that the student doesn’t make that connection today, but they’ve met you,” Frankoff said, referring to employers. “They may go on with plans to go to a four-year school and then after a year decide they may need to look at something else.”