Connecting nearly 9,000 eight-grade students across CFISD’s 18 middle school with potential career opportunities and industry personnel was just one of the many benefits afforded to attendees at the Junior Achievement of Southeast Texas (JASET)’s annual job awareness fair, JA Inspire.
Held over three days (Feb. 5-7) at the Berry Center, JA Inspire is in its fifth year. Each day was filled with sessions, presentations, hands-on product displays and demonstrations with experts from more than 50 Houston-area businesses in a variety of industries.
To help streamline the process for students and better their experience, attendees selected one of four endorsement tracks (STEM, business and industry, public services and arts and humanities) beforehand.
KPRC Channel 2 anchor Rachel McNeill, a 1992 Cypress Creek High School graduate, spoke to eighth graders to end the second day of the three-day JA Inspire, held Feb. 5-7 at the Berry Center.
“The kids are just so well-prepared,” said Rick Franke, JASET president. “They’re well-focused. They’re respectful to our speakers. And they engage, and that’s the most important aspect of this.”
Each day began with a welcome session for all students in the Berry Center arena, as they filled the seats with color-coded shirts. They were then divided into three groups, rotating between presentations in the conference center, a soft-skills demonstration in the arena and exhibitors in the second-flood concourse.
While exploring in the concourse, students could visit with company employees and industry experts in a variety of fields, ranging from law enforcement to banking, and engineering to electrical.
“People think banking is only banking,” said Brenda Oehlke, an assistant vice president for commercial lending at Plains Capital Bank who represented the Texas Bankers Association at JA Inspire. “We need IT people. We need security people. It’s endless.”
Speakers also closed each day. They included KPRC Channel 2 anchor Rachel McNeill, a Cypress Creek High School graduate, and Heritage Texas Properties realtor associate Lily Jang, a Langham Creek High School graduate.
“We have so many kids who don’t have the exposure to what’s out there for them” said Dr. Linda Macias, associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction and accountability. “(There are) so many resources for so they can truly be knowledgeable about what types of careers are out there, what types of courses they need to be looking at and taking in school, but also what type of skills – soft skills – they need to refine or acquire to be successful through an interview or through a job.”
Students were divided up by four endorsement tracks (STEM, business and industry, public services and arts and humanities) that they selected beforehand to receive a more specialized experience.
While exploring career stations on the concourse, students spoke with company employees and industry representatives to learn more about their businesses.
Speakers in different career fields closed each day. They included KPRC Channel 2 anchor Rachel McNeill, a Cypress Creek High School graduate, and Heritage Texas Properties realtor associate Lily Jang, a Langham Creek High School graduate.
“Our eighth-grade students are fortunate to be able to participate in an interactive experience that provides them with information on a variety of careers and local employers from the greater Houston area,” said Dr. Linda Macias, associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction and accountability. “This will assist them in making informed decisions when selecting an endorsement and course selections for high school.”
Campbell Middle School eighth-grade student Cameron Rice explores a virtual reality simulator during JA Inspire. As part of the three-day job awareness fair, students visited career stations, which included hands-on products to show what the career entails.