This month, we asked Melissa Vance, President and CEO of the Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce, to share her thoughts on Employability. Learn about this year’s Chamber Career Fair and more below:

If you experience the winter blues in February, we have an excellent cure for you next year – participate in the Chamber Career Fair!  This event is bustling with energy and the perfect pick-me-up!

The 2023 event took place on February 22 and 23 at the Wayne County Fairgrounds and is meant to give students a taste of the vast range of careers available in Wayne County.  It is truly an exploration with hands-on activities from start to finish.  Nearly every high school junior and senior in the county was able to participate, as this event showcased a broad range of careers from those requiring a high school diploma to those requiring graduate degrees and everything in between. 

The biproducts of the event are the opportunity to retain talent in our community, encourage students to find a career centered around their passion and skillset (or potential skillset), and to identify the necessary training for each career.  If this training is available in Richmond, even better. 

First Impressions

Eastern Indiana Works kicked off the experience with a “First Impressions” session, helping attendees think about how they present themselves through body language, promptness and more. Mixing in some light-hearted humor helped get the conversation flowing. 

The juniors then took a short assessment called “True Colors”.  It helped identify what personality type, represented by one of four colors, most closely matched their own.  Then community leaders talked through how that personality type could help students find careers where they would have a likelihood to succeed. These colors were represented in the next step by employers hiring people with their skillset and temperament.

Seniors had the opportunity to sit in small groups with employers working in sectors matching their interests. Seventeen sectors were available:

  • Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources
  • Architecture & Construction
  • Arts, AV, Technology & Communications
  • Business Management, Administration & Finance
  • Cosmetology
  • Engineering
  • Education & Training
  • Government & Public Administration
  • Health Careers
  • Hospitality & Tourism
  • Human Services & Non-Profit Organizations
  • Information Technology
  • Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security
  • Manufacturing
  • Marketing, Sales & Services
  • Radio & TV
  • Transportation, Distribution & Logistics

Career Fair Floor

The real magic happened when attendees walked into the First Bank Kuhlman Center and saw 47 businesses set up with activities.  Eyes widened, and smiles emerged.  Brewer Broadcasting was there with their microphones and games letting people take turns winning prizes through an on-air experience.  Neighborhood Health Clinic allowed participants to try their hand at phlebotomy on a practice arm, Synergy Home Care had a young professional sharing first-hand how they provide care to the elderly.  Eastern Indiana Works had a virtual reality corner where students were able to do tasks in various career fields. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

It Takes a Village

This event is no easy task.  It took 56 volunteers committing their time to this effort.  However, the payoff has enormous potential.  Forward Wayne County’s Employability Coalition that includes committee members from the Chamber, Economic Development Corporation, educational institutions, and employers have been working to develop a skilled workforce.  There is no better place to start than with those who have not yet entered a career. 

Why should students choose Wayne County as their permanent home? Because it is the best place to live, work, play and learn!

The next employability event from the Chamber will be their 2023 Hiring Fair on Thursday, April 13th. High school students will have an opportunity to visit the tables before the event opens to the public from 2:00 – 4:30 pm.

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