More than 20,000 seventh- through 12th- grade students from across Western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia virtually attended the JA Inspire Career Fair hosted recently by Junior Achievement of Western PA, headquartered in South Fayette Township.
JA modified the annual in-person event to offer virtual event platform “vFairs,” which digitized the career and college expo experience, complete with a fully interactive auditorium and lobby.
Past in-person career fairs limited the organization’s reach beyond the greater Pittsburgh region because of space and transportation restrictions. By accessing the program through a digital platform, JA has connected with more schools.
“By going digital, our student numbers increased 1,200% from last year,” said Patrice Matamoros, JA of Western PA president. “Our partnership with vFairs has allowed us to maximize touch points with the students and educators while introducing parents and guardians to this unique JA program who typically are not involved firsthand.”
Before the event, students complete six JA Inspire lessons that focus on topics such as career planning, networking and interviewing. The process is designed to help them navigate the event and steer them to the companies that most closely align with their skills and interests.
The interactive career fair exhibits more than 70 organizations from around the region representing 16 career sectors, such as health science, information technology, human services, engineering and manufacturing. Company booths include videos, downloadable documents, and links featuring overviews of the organization and even current job vacancies.
Inside the virtual auditorium, students can watch pre-recorded webinars that cover a variety of topics on choosing a college, entrepreneurship and engineering.
“The virtual career fair provided our students with a terrific opportunity to do some self-paced career exploration,” said Matt Cheran, an eighth-grade social studies teacher at Peters Township Middle School. “The virtual fair put on by Junior Achievement was quite well received by the students. We’re thankful for this opportunity.”
While the career fair is a one-day event, students will be able to access the platform for up to three months allowing time to explore and map their educational and career pathway.
For more information, visit www.jawesternpa.org.