Last week we held our third annual Year 11 Careers Fair. It is an all day event we organise jointly with two other local High Schools as we’ve found that this approach spreads the administrative burden in the build up but also tempts more exhibitors into coming as more students will attend. Promising to put around 500 fresh faces in front of them is much more of a draw than just one year group.
Holding it in October seems to make sense as it ‘kick starts’ the reality of moving on for the Year group and, the closer through the academic year you get to exam season, the less likely you are to be allowed to take the students off timetable for an hour anyhow.
To discourage the frantic “freebie collection dash” that Careers Fairs can sometimes turn into we prepare a questionnaire/evaluation for students to complete. This includes questions that they have to ask certain providers and space to reflect on any new information they discovered and how it affected their plans. For an after half term assembly we have some high street vouchers to give as prizes for the forms that have been filled in with the most considered answers, those which show the young person has really thought about what they heard on the day. We also ask the exhibitors to complete an evaluation and try our best to act on their comments (this year we moved the location in part because of last years comments), which are extremely helpful as we want to make it as easy as possible for all types of organisations to attend.
Getting the right mix of Colleges, Sixth Forms, Universities, training providers, local and national employers to attend is the probably the highest hurdle to overcome. Some fantastic local employers such as Vauxhall, GKN Aerospace, Selex Galileo and Wates Construction attended alongside general employer bodies such as NAS, The Institute of Public Relations and Hit Training but we will always want more. Education providers are always keen to be there to market themselves and we thank and value their input as well.
If you run similar events, I’d love to hear how you go about organising them and what steps you take to make sure the students wring out the greatest possible worth from them. Please get in touch via twitter or in the comments below.