Career Summit aims to empower students in college and career choices

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Paul Johnson, a counselor at Rio Mesa High School, sees a growing number of students with the grades and the ability to attend a four-year university forego college for either a trade school or a job straight out of high school.

Johnson cited as a cause rising tuition and larger student loans that burden college grads entering a troubled job market.

“They want a twoyear education and then get trained and be able to work,” he said.

It’s a trend that has Johnson and other high school officials rethinking how to advise seniors as to what their options are once they graduate, especially in light of the high unemployment rates among high school grads. According to a recent report by the federal government, the unemployment rate for recent high school graduates not enrolled in school was 33.6 percent.

“I deal with seniors that are uncertain of what they want to commit to and what to pursue as a career. (Graduating students) used to have a vague idea, and now a lot of time they don’t know,” said Johnson, who has been a counselor at Rio Mesa since 2006.

To help students better understand — Paul Johnson

Rio Mesa High School counselor the many career paths and college majors available to them, the United Way of Ventura County Young Leaders Society will host its fifth annual Youth Empowerment Summit career conference at Oxnard College on May 4.

David Perez, chair of the Young Leaders Society, said the career workshops and panels are relevant to today’s students.

“They’ll interact with a wide variety of business professionals and fields from law and politics to customer service,” Perez said.

More than 40 professionals will share personal stories about their fields.

Although some traditional careers require a college education and beyond—such as medicine and finance—the conference will also feature guest speakers who began their careers right after high school.

“We present a wide variety of options to launch a career into the military or the police force,” Perez said.

Kim Dallape, a teacher at Frontier High School in Camarillo, is taking eight students to the conference. Though most are interested in becoming lawyers, Dallape said she hopes the conference will expose the teens to the variety of career paths a particular field may offer.

“If you’re going into law, it doesn’t mean you have to be the lawyer,” Dallape said. “They don’t always realize there are all the little roads that belong to the same area.”

Workshops will cover technical and trade schools, financial aid, and resume and interview tips. Students who attend the conference may apply for a $1,000 scholarship—one of 10—to be given by the United Way of Ventura County Young Leaders Society.

Perez said organizers expect about 300 high school and community college students to attend the conference.

Students may register at Oxnard College, 4000 South Rose Ave., on the day of the conference. The summit will be from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information, call (805) 484-6288, ext. 252.

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