November 22, 2017

High school freshmen find their future at career fair

The future became clearer Friday for 2,000 Detroit Public Schools Community District freshmen who learned about potential career paths at the Find Your Future: Career Exploration Fair hosted by United Way for Southeastern Michigan.

The event is part of our Education team’s efforts to ensure children have the skills and experience necessary to succeed in college and career right out of high school.

The fair, held at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, connected students with dozens of corporate partners who introduced them to career options. Students also attended sessions on topics like time management, college preparation and leadership.

“We’re thrilled to partner with the Detroit Public Schools Community District,” said Herman Gray, President and CEO of United Way for Southeastern Michigan.

“We are there to support the district’s vision and its work. This is just one of the many ways in which we demonstrate that.”

Dr. Gray and Dr. Vitti pose for the camera.
Dr. Gray high-fives students.

College and career success

“This career fair is directly aligned to a number of our priorities,” said Detroit Public Schools Community District Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti.

The district’s goal is for all students to be fully prepared for success in college or career upon graduation. Career fairs like these are one step in that direction.

The event presented an opportunity for students to learn what they want to be in the future.

Events like the Find Your Future fair give students “a better sense of reality,” Vitti said. “We hope to give a student who isn’t clear on what to do after high school a little more clarity.”

One student who gained some clarity as a result of the fair was Cass Tech High School freshman Arthur Harrington.

“It was very educational and enlightening,” Arthur said. He hopes to earn a Ph. D in political science from Harvard University or the University of Michigan before starting his own business.

“I learned a lot,” he said. “It opened my mind to things I could do and it lets me know there are more options out there. It means a lot to know that United Way is putting forth the effort to want to help and connect kids to a better future.”

Arthur Harrington focuses during a session about success in college.

Proud partners

Former Detroit Public Schools teacher Katie Anderson worked one of the partner booths for Ford, where she is a program coordinator. The career fair impressed her because of the experience the kids were gaining.

“We’re lifting these kids up, and they’re getting themselves excited about their future,” she said. “We make it tangible for them.”

Katie Anderson teaches a student at the Ford booth.

Dave Reaves worked the DTE Energy partner booth.

“Ninth grade is the perfect level to come in and get this exposure,” Dave said.

In addition to helping kids, he donates to United Way through his workplace campaign.

“Knowing United Way is doing all this makes me realize I’m doing the right thing with my contribution,” he said.

Ronda Alexander, director of corporate and community alignment for the College and Career Pathways team at United Way, said the fair prepares students for jobs that they didn’t even know existed.

“I hope students find their future,” she said.

“If I can get a student to get that light bulb moment think about their life after high school, then this day has been a success.”