Cypress, TX News – JA Inspire Students On Path to Career Readiness

Cypress, TX News (February 5, 2014) – More than 8,000 CFISD eighth-grade students took a step toward their postsecondary career paths by participating in the two-day job awareness fair hosted by Junior Achievement of Southeast Texas (JASET), JA Inspire.

Approximately 50 Houston businesses in a variety of industries interacted with future leaders representing 16 CFISD middle schools at the Berry Center, Feb. 3-4, in a landmark collaboration for the school district and JASET.

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“It’s an experience we have never done before,” JASET President Rick Franke said. “We have done it independently in the classroom, but this is the first time we have had a focused effort to expand the students’ perspectives about the world of work that is around them.

“Part of our mission is to educate and inspire these kids about their future. What we are able to do in this setting is to target students before they start making high school class choices, or decisions about whether to go to college or not, or whether to go to a trade school or a community college—we are giving them an opportunity to see what their options are.”

Following a morning welcome session with all of the students in the Berry Center arena, the students divided into three groups that rotated between industry presentations in the conference center, displays in the parking lot and exhibitors in the second-floor concourse.

Chevron Phillips Chemical, which forecasts hiring 2,500-2,800 people in the next five to six years, brought a hands-on display to the concourse, where students could take pictures beside cutout portraits of actual Chevron Phillips employees in front of the backdrop of the company’s Baytown-based Cedar Bayou Plant. Chevron Phillips representatives also brought various products—a coffee can, cooler, kayak and Nerf gun—made from the very petrochemicals and plastics the company produces.

“This is a different demographic for us,” said Kammy Reece, Chevron Phillips Chemical’s employee and marketing communications supervisor. “We don’t normally get to connect with eighth-grade students that often. With HB 5 coming up and students needing to make choices in their educational paths, it is nice to have the opportunity to connect with students at this level. We have enjoyed making this an interactive experience for the students here in Cypress-Fairbanks ISD to learn more about our company and the career paths available to them.”

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Another exhibitor, CenterPoint Energy, helped plant seeds by giving out a What’s Up With Your Future magazine that steered students not only to energy careers, but the job market in general.

“It’s important to reach them right now because we know they are going into the job market as soon as four years from now,” said Janette Hammond, CenterPoint Energy program manager. “We are trying to equip them with some of the knowledge they need, knowing that they will hopefully be taking care of us one day—our presidents and doctors and lawyers of the future. We were once where they are right now, and it is important to instill in them now that they will be our future.”

Although the two-day event is now complete, JASET plans for the momentum from JA Inspire to carry forward into the schools. JASET provided materials that CFISD teachers will be able to utilize with students to reinforce the importance of planning for careers.

“Learning comes a lot of different ways—often with on-the-job experience or certifications. I think it is very important that this conversation continues in the classroom,” Franke said. “We hope that teachers will communicate to students that your first job for a company may not be your dream job initially, but it will open the opportunity for you to continue your education on the job and define where your skill sets lie. Preparation is often not just a leap-step into college and then you’re ready. It is a step of processes that they will need to take to eventually reach their ultimate career goal.”