Bemidji Career Academies hosts inaugural hiring fair at Bemidji High School
With around 30 employers in attendance, roughly 600 students had a chance to apply for jobs and take part in on-the-spot interviews.
BEMIDJI — Last spring, the Bemidji Career Academies Career Fair made its long-awaited return as the first career fair since the coronavirus pandemic put it on pause, time and time again.
In partnership with the Boy Scouts of America and Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce, Bemidji Career Academies observed another first on Thursday as it hosted its inaugural hiring fair for Bemidji High School juniors and seniors.
With around 30 employers in attendance, roughly 600 students had a chance to not only learn about career areas and consider what their futures may hold after graduation but also apply for jobs and take part in on-the-spot interviews.
The key difference between the career fairs and the hiring fair was the idea of exploring future careers at a career fair versus filling positions in real-time at the hiring fair.
“In the fall, (career fairs are) more focused on exploratory booths and interactive exhibits with the goal of looking at an industry and different kinds of jobs that exist so students can get a little exposure,” BCA Coordinator Jenny Fraley said on Thursday. “Today, our focus is on filling positions in businesses in our local community.”
Career fairs are also more geared toward ninth through 12th-grade students while Thursday’s event focused more so on juniors and seniors.
BHS Principal Jason Stanoch spoke to the timing of the hiring fair as many businesses prepare to hire summer interns, seasonal workers and certain full-time positions.
“Many seasonal construction jobs or seasonal positions with the DNR…those types of positions that are open wouldn’t really be seen in the fall,” Stanoch said. “Being five weeks out from the end of the school year, this timing is perfect for people to be able to get hired and start a new job.”
A variety of options
Vendors in attendance had a chance to recruit students filtering in and out of the BHS gymnasium throughout the morning. Organizations ranged widely from Sanford Health and Knife River Materials to Paul Bunyan Communications and the U.S. Marine Corps.
Bemidji Parks and Recreation Director Marcia Larson referenced the difficulty with recruiting employees for open positions and considered the hiring fair as a chance to “put a face” to the department, which has openings in park maintenance, day camp counseling and internships.
“This is a great opportunity for us to connect and let students know what opportunities we have and what we do,” Larson said. “We want to make them feel a bit more comfortable and let them know that this is a great choice for them. Sometimes, it can be intimidating to apply for a job online and hope that someone responds, so for us to connect with students is just fabulous.”
Amber Coauette of Karvakko P.A. spoke to students about a summer internship opportunity related to civil engineering, a chance to give exposure to the profession.
“Summers are our busier times. We can always use additional help in the office as well as out in the fields,” Coauette said. “We’d like students to be able to work alongside some of our team members just to help them to understand what we do in our office and see if it’s something they’d be interested in pursuing.”
Reaping the benefits
For Fraley, the benefits of the hiring fair encompass the fact that students have easy access to such opportunities.
“The process of going door to door to get a job has gone by the wayside,” Fraley said. “This benefits students because it’s right here (at BHS) and it’s easy for them to have all of this at their fingertips.”
Stanoch noted a win-win situation of aiding businesses in recruiting employees and allowing students the opportunity to attain gainful employment with area organizations.
“For a lot of our partners, this is a return on their investment. They’ve invested in our students during some of the exploratory and real-life experiences (the career academies provide),” Stanoch added. “We’re bringing the employer, which has a need, and the student together. We’re hoping, whether it be long-term or part-time employment, that students have a fruitful experience.”
Such a sentiment closed out the morning as students had more job leads and organizations gained more potential job candidates.
“It’s intimidating being 16, 17, 18 years old and trying to make a decision on what you’re going to do for the rest of your life, but events like this bring great exposure to the different options in our community,” Coauette left off. “Bemidji has a lot to offer to our students to help them stay local. It’s important to get that out there and help students understand what is available to them.”