Career Expo virtual for Knox 8th-graders

Knox County Schools’s eighth-graders will be able to learn about area career opportunities with a virtual Career Expo, taking place the week of Monday, March 1, through Friday, March 5.

Hosted by Knox County Schools Career and Technical Education and presented by Pellissippi State Community College, students will be able to interact with speakers, take part in live events and visit a virtual exhibit hall.

Other sponsors include Trane, Industry Sector sponsor in the area of Architecture, Design and Construction, as well as Knox County and City of Knoxville governments.

“Students will participate through their Knox County middle school, and the plans developed at the school level,” said Dr. Keith Wilson, Career and Technical Education director for Knox County Schools. “Students will have an individual log-in that they will use for the Virtual Exhibit Hall, and schools will manage the schedule for the week regarding which live events will be available during the day for student participation.”

He noted there is no registration process other than the student access information, which will be handled at the school level.

“Each day during the week of March 1-5, there will be several live events available throughout the day to students through Microsoft Teams,” Wilson added. “Each middle school will be building a plan for student engagement in these live events based upon the master schedule for eighth-grade students.

Live sessions “will be provided by business partners, post-secondary institutions and programs, Knox County Schools employees and Junior Achievement of East Tennessee,” Wilson said. “They will focus on careers in different industries in our region, local opportunities for college and technical training after graduation, early post-secondary opportunities, CTE elective choices at the high school level and soft skills for success in high school, college and beyond.

Live event details

“During these live events, students will have the ability to interact with the speakers through a moderated chat feature that will allow them to answer questions from teachers and students from across the county,” he added. “We know that students won’t be able participate in all the available sessions during the school day. Therefore, the sessions will also be recorded so students or parents can replay them after the event.”

Recorded sessions and virtual exhibit hall “will be available outside of the typical school day schedule, and students could revisit by themselves or with parents after hours during the week,” Wilson said.

He said the department is working with Knoxville Chamber of Commerce to provide students with a virtual exhibit hall, which would feature a number of local business and post-secondary partners. 

“The exhibit hall will exist in an online digital platform that will allow students to explore virtual booths, where they will watch short videos and have access to graphics, flyers, documents, etc., that will provide information related to that business or educational partner,” Wilson said. “Students will be using at least one class period during the week to explore the booths and access the information from those partners.

“The virtual exhibit hall through the 6Connex platform can be accessed after school hours, as well, with the student’s login information if they want more time with the booths or if parents would like to explore with their students,” he added.

Wilson said the expo previously was an annual event.

“Until a couple of years ago, Knox County held an annual evening (in-person) career fair for eighth-grade students. I believe that event last occurred in the spring of 2019.   

“... Those who had previously planned and led the event were also looking for opportunities to make the event more aligned with the district goals for student career exploration activities,” he added.  

All about the plans

Due to COVID-19, “We had to shift our plans to a virtual event to ensure that we could move forward during this school year as planned,” Wilson said.

“... We spent a good portion of last year looking at other models for these types of events in other school communities, and we were planning to do an in-person event this past December,” he added.

“The design and planning has been a collaborative effort among the two of us, members of our Secondary Supervision team and key partners, like the Knoxville Chamber (of Commerce), Knox Education Foundation and Junior Achievement of East Tennessee.”