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Workforce 2020 fair attracts 1,500 students

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Local businesses want to put an end to brain drain.

More than 100 business and government representatives came to the eighth annual Workforce 2020 Career Fair at Jefferson Community College on Wednesday to show high school students the career opportunities available throughout Jefferson and Lewis counties.

“We want to retain our youth, so it’s a good way of showing them what we have available,” said Cheryl A. Mayforth, executive director of the Jefferson-Lewis Workforce Investment Board.

The event, which attracted about 1,500 professionally dressed high school seniors and juniors from 17 schools, was organized by the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce, Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services and Workforce Investment Board.

Mrs. Mayforth said students prepared cover letters and resumes and looked up the local companies they wanted to speak to starting in November.

When the students arrived at the event, company representatives gave them mock interviews and tips on finding a job after high school or college.

“We ask them what their career goals are and where they see themselves in five years,” said Danielle K. Colton, Northern Federal Credit Union personnel development supervisor.

She said about 20 students visited her during the event’s first three hours.

“I think the most common advice I give, for me, is that it’s OK to change your major because there are so many opportunities,” she said.

Indian River senior Kourtney A. Brennan said she spoke with both the Conboy, McKay, Bachman & Kendall law firm and a military helicopter pilot representative, two occupations she is interested in pursuing.

She said she learned to “start college to find out where I fit.”

Indian River senior Devin J. Iams visited a company promoting innovative physical therapy.

“They told me more of what I can expect when I get out of college, the type of hours I’ll work,” he said.

Mrs. Mayforth said students in the past have contacted Workforce Investment to say how helpful the event has been post-high school.

“People keep those folders,” she said, referring to the packets with students’ resumes and career information. “It’s valuable material.”

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