The following information refers to our typical in-person event. The 2021 Expo will take place virtually to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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.
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, hats, gum, or clothing with logos. (Nice, clean jeans are okay) One good rule of thumb? Dress for the job you want to have, and remember that your attitude is your most important attire.
Assume all 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.
Follow your own path.
Your friends may have their own ideas for the Expo, and that’s great. Just remember to make the most of this opportunity for yourself. You’ll have the chance to
- Visit more than 195 booths where employers demonstrate & talk with you about career paths
- Meet with representatives from training schools, apprenticeships, community colleges, & universities
- Participate in “hands-on” learning activities
- Participate in a mock interview
- Attend a workshop on resume writing or interview essentials
- Receive feedback on your resume
Students | Expo Tips Handout
Teachers | All 2020 Educator Resources
Check out this fun 90-second Expo highlights video produced by a Portland high school student, or browse a photo gallery from a past Expo. Additional videos include a 50-second "5 Tips for a Great Expo," and a 2-minute video montage of scenes from the Expo floor.
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. Nearly 500 people attended in 2019! Learn more.