Seventh grade students enthusiastically embrace Conroe’s Youth to Career Fair
26 Oct 2023
Business News, Area Companies
The inaugural Youth to Career Fair attracted 1,800 seventh grade students from Conroe and Willis ISD schools to learn about careers in a diverse range of business and industry found in Greater Conroe.
New Conroe manufacturer, Hertha Metals, provided students a look at how it is pioneering a new steel manufacturing process with reduced carbon emissions. Female students were attracted to the woman-owned company booth hosted by CEO and founder Dr. Laureen Meroueh and operations & talent acquisition specialist Keyanna Jones.
Prompted by student questions, Jones encouraged students to tackle challenges and study hard. She shared with them that Hertha, which produces a different kind of steel, faces challenges and overcomes challenges to be the best company possible.
“It is beneficial for middle school students to discover new opportunities in Conroe, such as the revolutionary steel process at Hertha Metals, and to learn traditional careers available from our robust manufacturing industry,” said Jennifer Matthews, Associate Director of Conroe Economic Development Council.
Welding has long been a popular traditional career for some young people. New technological advancements and high-tech options, such as welding simulators and robots, allow more young students to experience the feel and art of welding. Technology has helped attract more male and female welding students into career and technology programs. The technological renaissance of Career and Technical Education delights both industry professionals and educators.
Brian Adams of AirGas shared his story of how “shop classes” kept him in school and has helped him earn a nice living in the crafts industry. He told students that 12-15 months training prepares students to earn $25 per hour welding. The AirGas booth offered a hands-on welding simulator to provide students virtual opportunities to try their hand at welding.
In the neighboring booth, Mason Dupuis of Conroe Welding Supply provided similar advice while showing off a welding robot. When students asked what qualifications were needed for welding, Dupuis responded “a high school diploma with some technical training helps students enter the welding field.” Dupuis, an academically successful high school student selected for leadership classes, finds his career satisfaction in the crafts field.
The often-overlooked soft skills of career preparation were addressed at the Education for Tomorrow Alliance booth presenting proper phone and business etiquette, as well as how to dress for business success. An alliance of business and community volunteers, EfTA helps empower tomorrow’s adults in the workplace.
Besides the Conroe Fire Department’s interactive booths with hands-on CPR and fire hose pulling, 209 Photo Booth was one of the busiest booths. Students waited in line to get photos taken in front of a “green screen”. The developed photos showed students in various career or entertaining backgrounds.
Other Conroe careers highlighted included law enforcement, engineering, health care, finance, communication, transportation, education, agriculture and construction.
Travis Utecht, director of Willis ISD Career and Technology Education, helped lead the event planning committee. He was pleased with student participation, noting that Willis had 550 seventh graders attending. Students had specific questions to ask each booth which helped students engage in dialogue and learn about various Conroe careers.
“Due to assistance from Travis and others from Willis and Conroe ISDs, the Youth to Career Fair was a huge hit! Planning for next year’s Career Fair starts soon,” said Matthews.
Conroe EDC sponsored the event along with Conroe/Lake Conroe Chamber of Commerce, Lone Star College and the Lone Star Convention & Expo Center. Willis and Conroe ISDs helped plan the Youth to Career Fair.