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 seven 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. (See this 2017 video and photo tour for inspiration.)
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. The Expo has staggered arrival times for schools, and each school visits for about two hours. Some schools don't arrive until noon. Those teenagers 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.
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.
Pace yourself on freebies and handouts. Freebies and handouts are very popular, but remember we expect about 6,500 students! Reserve some business cards and handouts for the teachers and counselors who visit your booth.
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 posterboard 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.
“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.” -- Bob Calwhite, Pacific Northwest Carpenters Institute