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Second job fair at Willmar Senior High kicks off Tuesday

WILLMAR -- In the 216 Willmar Senior High School job fair, Cash Wise Foods found five new employees. Store manager Chad Primus said he's glad the job fair has become an annual event, and he plans to have Cash Wise represented each year into the f...

2016 job fair
David Lamas, of Duininck Incorporated, speaks to students May 3, 2016, at a job fair at Willmar Senior High School. The second WHS Student Job Fair & Expo fair is slated Tuesday. Nearly 30 businesses have signed up for the fair, and organizers will still accept registrations Monday. (Gary Miller / Tribune file photo)

WILLMAR - In the 216 Willmar Senior High School job fair, Cash Wise Foods found five new employees.

Store manager Chad Primus said he's glad the job fair has become an annual event, and he plans to have Cash Wise represented each year into the future.

The second WHS Student Job Fair & Expo fair will run from 11:15 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. Tuesday in the high school gym. The job fair is sponsored by the school district, Ridgewater College, Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Central Minnesota Jobs & Training.

Vendors have rented booth space in the gym, and students will be able to visit the booths during those 2 1/2 hours. The students in grades 9-12 will have already filled out generic applications, and they can use a school app to submit applications to the employers the interest them.

"I think it's a great opportunity for high school students to get a chance to take a look at what they want for either a career or the next steps in their life," Primus said. "I would not be surprised if this got to be a bigger thing."

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Having the job fair on school grounds boosts attendance, he added. "If they don't have to leave or go anywhere, we get to meet everyone," he said. There's no guarantee who might show up at a fair held somewhere else, he added.

Ben Dimond, a counselor at the Senior High, said he heard positive comments from students and businesses a year ago. It will be an annual event "to help our kids see what is in our area and begin building a work history."

The event represents a connection between the community and the high school, Dimond said. Volunteers from Employment Plus, Jennie-O Turkey Store and Central Minnesota Jobs & Training have visited the school to speak with seniors about preparing for a job interview.

In their weekly Ramp Up classes, students have learned about shaking hands, dressing for job interviews and preparing answers to typical interview questions. "Little things, but they all add up to positive impressions," Dimond said.

Ramp Up is a program the school uses to help students prepare for life after high school. Students attend the short once-a-week courses through their four years at the school. They learn test-taking tips, budgeting, financial aid facts, how to choose post-secondary education, and other practical information. It fulfills part of the state's World's Best Workforce requirements for schools.

"I think the job fair is a good culminating event for them," Dimond said. "They see a purpose for what we've been talking about."

"The ultimate goal for me is when kids graduate, they go to businesses and the businesses learn they are prepared for work," he said. "It helps promote positive feelings about our school with the community."

As of Thursday, 27 businesses were signed up for the fair. Organizers will still accept registrations on Monday, Dimond said. Anyone interested should contact the Chamber of Commerce, 320-235-0300.

In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: lvanderwerf@wctrib.com or phone 320-214-4340
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