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Organizers pivot to online expo to help students plan careers

Posted at 9:47 PM, Jan 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-22 21:53:13-05

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Rubbing elbows with business leaders, exploring career pathways and giving students a jump start on their future is the mission of an upcoming Life-Ready Expo sponsored by the Henrico County Public Schools Department of Workforce and Career Development.

It’s Director, Mac Benton, says it is all about giving students a real taste of the work world.

Last year’s event drew more than 4,000 students and parents who connected with 150 local employers.

“They were talking about their career pathways and what it takes to get into the career. Many were telling their own stories and how they got to where they are now. What was so powerful is the moms and dads were standing right there saying, you need to listen, this is powerful,” Benton explained.

COVID-19 forced organizers to pivot this year, so they are taking the Life-Ready Expo series online. The virtual events will each have a specific career focus.

From business and technology to health services, industrial and engineering technology-- even arts and communications.

Beverly Cocke says seventh-twelfth graders from Henrico and all surrounding school systems can participate through Microsoft Teams. They’ll first log on to a homeroom area.

“When they go into the home room area, they’ll be given a list of the businesses that are participating and the links to click into those rooms. Then they will virtually hop in and out of those rooms through a two-hour period,” Cocke said.

“The kids are asking very powerful questions, detailed questions. The employers are able to answer them and spend time talking to the students," Benton added. "The employers love the individualized attention and they feel good about participating.”

Both says it’s a great way to nudge students into thinking about career interests now, so they can develop a plan of action for their future.

“It’s up to the individual and their interests," Cocke said. "I think that’s an important piece -- is to give that student that voice and put them in charge of what their interests. We are just providing those platforms for them to talk to businesses and build those connections."

Life-Ready Expo virtual events are from 6-8 p.m. on as follows: Jan. 26 (Business Management and Technology), Feb. 9 (Health Services), Feb. 23 (Industrial and Engineering Technology) and March 9 (Arts and Communications).

Students and parents from all across the region are invited, but need a link to participate. Organizers say participants can gain access by clicking this link.