The NW Youth Careers Expo is a high-energy and high-volume event, with 1,000+ new high school students pouring through the front doors every hour. For exhibitors, that means preparation is essential. Here are insider tips from people who have participated in the Expo as exhibitors for years:
Think about your business from a teenager's point of view. What is eye-catching? What can you bring from your workplace that students can see, feel, touch, do, try out or try on? Don't be afraid to have a little fun. Need some inspiration? Check out our 2019 Expo Photo Highlights or our Expo Highlights Video
Prepare your booth. Each 10’ x 10’ booth includes the following: 2 chairs and 1 – 8’ draped table. If you need additional items please contact Fern exhibiting services at email@example.com. Be interactive – equipment, demos, videos, etc. Having something the students can touch and feel is great! Move-in will take place Monday, March 9, 2020 from 1:00 – 6:00 pm in Halls C & D. To get to the ramp to the Exhibit Hall, follow the signs to the OCC loading dock. This will take you to the back of the building. You will use loading ramp D to unload.
Bring snacks for yourself! Your booth may have a lot of visitors, which can make it hard to break away for lunch. Also, lunch lines can be long. Exhibitors are welcome to bring sack lunches or snacks for themselves.
Stay until 1:30 pm! Reserve some energy for the afternoon schools. Arrival times for the schools are staggered. You can expect approximately 1,500 - 2,000 students to arrive each hour. The students stay for about two hours. 9:00 am – 12:00 pm will be the busiest part of the day. Students are coming from SW Washington, Portland metro and all areas surrounding Portland and Salem. A list of attending schools can be found here. Those students who arrive at the end of the day need career inspiration just as much as those who arrive at the beginning. Please don't break down your booth until after 1:30 pm. Move-out is from 1:30 pm until 6 pm on March 10.
Recruit booth volunteers carefully. The people in your booth are your biggest asset. Teenagers are drawn to adults who seem open and friendly, and who are able to start a conversation. Take time to engage the students – Ask them questions, get them interested in your booth. Some students will come with questions to ask as a school assignment, however many will not. It is up to you, as the exhibitor, to talk with these students and engage them in your industry.
Pace yourself on freebies and handouts. Freebies and handouts are very popular, but remember we expect more than 6,500 students! Reserve some business cards and handouts for the teachers and counselors who visit your booth. Don’t put out all your “freebies” or candy first thing in the morning. With the amount of students coming, it is okay to run out and then when the next wave comes in you can restock. Have something the kids can take home with them – pieces of machinery, pvc tubing, promotional items. (Note: OCC does not allow balloons, stickers, frisbees, balls, or other items that may cause damage to the building.)
State the obvious. Students may not know about your work or company. Your company may be a household name among adults, but if you're not Nike, teenagers may not be familiar with you. Bring a big sign. Bring a poster board or two describing your company, industry, careers and necessary education. Add some fun facts.
Promote your internships or volunteer opportunities. If you have internships, summer jobs or other career-related learning experiences that are open to high school students, the Expo is a perfect place to promote them. You can direct students to your website or, if appropriate, have an email signup sheet.
Bring in equipment, trucks, and other types of demos! The students love hands-on activities. The more hands on equipment, trucks, vehicles, and other types of demos for the students, the better the Expo will be for both students and exhibitors. Students want to be able to actually see what the companies do and feel the equipment. In the past, we have had welding demonstrations, cranes, PGE trucks, CPR manikins, blood pressure activities, ambulances, etc.
If you are exhibiting a vehicle, please remember that the following fire marshal rules apply:
- less than ¼ of gas
- a locked or taped gas cover
- the battery will need to be disconnected
If you do not have all of these taken care of then you will be turned away when you arrive onsite. Please note that all vehicles must be approved by PWA staff in advance. Questions? Contact Erin Jaso Longfellow, Event Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We have a virtual painting booth. There’s also a virtual welder – you flip the hood down and start, and it looks like you’re welding. What we’re trying to do is tie the construction industry to the relevancy of what they’re learning in high school. We’re trying to show them that there’s all kinds of opportunities and careers out there.” - Volunteer, Pacific Northwest Carpenters Institute