The Expo is a great chance to learn about careers and talk to actual employers about smart next steps after graduation. The Expo is also BIG, so planning ahead will help you make the most of it. Here’s some advice for students.

Printable handout: “Expo Tips for Students”

(TEACHERS: Click here for the 2018 teacher packet and a full summary of teacher resources.)

Check out our videos and photos.

Browse a photo gallery of the 2017 Expo and check out this fantastic 1-minute Expo highlights video, produced by a Portland high school student. (Additional videos include a 50-second “5 Tips for a Great Expo,” and a 2-minute video montage of scenes from the Expo floor.

Read up beforehand.

Visit our exhibitor page to get a sense of what employers and industries will be present. Don’t just scan the list for familiar names! Do some research on the smaller employers and unexpected exhibitors. They might have the most useful insights or be able to spend more time talking with you.

Go on a fact-finding mission.

Select at least five employers from the exhibitor list to visit and brainstorm questions for them. (What skills are necessary for this career? What type of education/training do you need? What is the salary range for someone working in this field? What do you like most about your job, and what are the biggest challenges? Here are a few more.)

Dress for success.

Employers will take you more seriously if you dress professionally. Dress is business casual, such as what you might wear to a job interview. That means no shorts, caps/hats, gum, or T-shirts with objectionable logos/graphics. (Jeans are okay if they are clean and in good condition.) One good rule of thumb? Dress for the job you want to have, and remember that your attitude is your most important attire.

Assume the adults are friendly.

Talk to the people at the exhibitor booths. Ask for their business cards. Chat with them. (They are here because they want to be.) Follow up afterward and inquire about an informational interview. You never know where something might lead several years down the road.

Thank exhibitors for coming.

Ordinary people volunteer a lot of time to make the Expo successful. Companies donate a lot of money, too. Please thank the people in the booths for participating. (We want them to come back next year!)

Follow your own drummer.

Your friends may have their own ideas for the Expo, and that’s fine. Just remember to make the most of this opportunity for yourself. You’ll have the chance to:

  • Visit more than 170 booths in the main hall floor where employers provide hands-on demonstrations and talk with you about their educational paths and the skills needed to be successful in their fields.
  • Meet with representatives from training schools, apprenticeships, community colleges and four-year universities.
  • Participate in “hands-on” learning activities (i.e. working with robots, trying out equipment from hospitals and other employers, etc.).
  • Participate in a mock interview. This is your chance to interview without the pressure and receive tips from human resource professionals.
  • Attend a workshop on resume writing or interview essentials.
  • Receive feedback on your resume.

Going to the PWA Expo Breakfast?

Every year, between 50 and 100 students are invited by the Portland Workforce Alliance to attend the nonprofit’s annual breakfast on Expo morning and talk with key leaders in business, education and politics about their career experiences. About 500 people, including the Portland mayor, attended in 2017! Learn more here.