MiCareerQuest Southeast 2018.
MiCareerQuest Southeast MiCareerQuest Southeast 2018.

High school students will have an interactive opportunity to experience mobility and other careers firsthand when MiCareerQuest Southeast returns for its second year on Nov. 8 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi.

The career exploration fair had a tremendous debut last November, with 8,000 high school students and over 1,000 exhibitors participating. This year over 10,000 students are expected to attend.

“It’s by far the largest career event of its kind in southeast Michigan. We just opened registration on August 15 and already we have 9,000 students signed up,” says Jennifer Llewellyn, manager of Oakland County Workforce Development/Oakland County Michigan Works!

She adds that while Oakland County is the lead organizer, the event is a team effort by a number of regional agencies. All schools in Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Wayne, Washtenaw, and Livingston counties can sign up their high school students.

All students will have opportunities throughout the day to get very direct, experiential exposure to a variety of careers in four sectors: health sciences, construction, information technology, and advanced manufacturing.

According to Llewellyn, many students last year were hesitant about the advanced manufacturing sector and they had a lot of misconceptions about the industry.

“Some students thought that maybe advanced manufacturing is antiquated, or just dirty work, or that it is not very technical,” she says. “They found out that this couldn’t be further from the truth. They found out what we already knew – that advanced manufacturing is exciting and that it is clean and it’s innovative and it’s technology at its finest.”

Many students also didn’t realize how careers in mobility factor into the advanced manufacturing sector. For many, MiCareerQuest Southeast is their first exposure to mobility career opportunities.

“It’s a really good way for young people to see how technology is reshaping the advanced manufacturing sector. In theory, most kids have an understanding of what a mobility career is, but it’s different to see things in person and to actually talk to professionally successful people who work with connected vehicles, for example,” Llewellyn says.

Last year, students were particularly impressed with representatives from Alpena Community College who brought in their drone van. Other exhibits allowed students to learn about software and programming.

“Last year we had some really engaging exhibits from FCA and GM where the students could truly see what the skilled trades look like or what programming looks like in IT within the advanced manufacturing industry,” Llewellyn says. “This year we’ve got some great representation from FCA, Comau, Brose, and even some aerospace companies like Williams International and Ascent Aerospace.”

Students tend to be more receptive to the career information available at MiCareerQuest Southeast because all of the exhibits are interactive, as opposed to traditional career fairs where students simply collect pamphlets while adults talk at them.

Most exhibits have several people from one company volunteering their time, tools, and firsthand knowledge about what they do day-to-day at their jobs. They will also candidly talk about their personal career paths and the challenges and rewards they experienced along the way.

Directly connecting with students and opening their minds to potential mobility careers can be powerful for advanced manufacturing companies.

“There are so many opportunities,” Llewellyn says. “We know that overall these companies are hungry for talent. We know that they are concerned about the talent pipeline and the future workforce. We would love kids to have the chance to hear, touch, and see what advanced technology careers look like in 2019.”