CPTC Career Conference returns!

By Jean Borst

Clover Park Technical College was buzzing and bustling more than usual on May 10 when the college hosted its popular Career Conference for the first time since 2019.

More than 1,800 area high school and middle school students converged on the campus to discover CPTC’s programs and pathways, connect with faculty, staff and students, and meet area employers. Students also had the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of financial aid at a FAFSA/WASFA application workshop offered by CPTC’s Student Aid and Scholarships office.

The festivities didn’t end there. The Career Conference also featured some tasty food truck fare and the always-popular 29th Annual People’s Choice Car & Bike Show sponsored by the Clover Park Technical College Foundation and Automotive program faculty.

Positive vibes all around

The atmosphere across campus was celebratory. After the event’s three-year hiatus due to the pandemic, students, faculty and staff were happy to be back.

“The students were engaged and excited to explore, and there was a lot of positive response about what they were seeing and learning,” said Deysi Martinez, CPTC Director of Outreach and Entry Services. “The counselors were so grateful. Their kids really needed this.”

For many students, their enthusiasm didn’t wane once they returned to their respective schools. “Counselors had students follow them directly into their offices and say they were ready to apply to Clover Park,” Martinez said. “It’s so rewarding to hear that.”

It wasn’t just visiting students who were pumped. The event also provided an opportunity for current CPTC students to mix, mingle and share their own experiences with younger attendees.

“It was a huge highlight for our college students, especially after the lack of interaction they experienced during the pandemic,” Martinez said. “They were able to show these kids what they can do if they decide to go to college or choose a career pathway.”

Big boost for employers, too

For the first time in its history, this year’s Career Conference included an in-person job fair. CPTC’s Employer Engagement Fair has traditionally been offered as a standalone event.

The college’s newly formed Career & Community Services department hosted more than 50 employers from across industries, from construction and manufacturing to health care, hospitality and more. Employers offered information about their organizations, available job opportunities and on-the-spot interviews.

“Combining the two events really expanded our reach,” said Michelle Barre, CPTC Director of Workforce Development. “Our employer guests were able to connect with a wide range of students and potential employees, from middle schoolers to our seasoned adult students.”

Barre is still collecting post-event surveys from Employer Engagement Fair attendees, but the early data is impressive. Of the 44 students who have responded so far, 13 were offered employment at the event.

Pivots are great, but…

Despite pandemic restrictions, CPTC continued to find creative ways to reach and connect with high school students when in-person events were on pause. Outreach & Entry Services offered virtual information sessions and provided schools with materials about CPTC’s campus and programs. Other pivots included a drive-through information day and a partnership with the Department of Health that enabled CPTC to distribute goodie bags at COVID vaccination clinics and testing sites. The college also participated in as many high school events as possible, including outdoor career and college fairs.

But nothing beats the impact of a big on-campus event that brings everyone together. Martinez credits CPTC faculty and staff for making this year’s Career Conference a success. “They really are the ones who made this happen,” she said. “They provided everything the students needed.”

Did you miss it? No problem.

Each month, CPTC offers multiple opportunities for prospective students to learn more about the college and its programs, including virtual and in-person information sessions.

Visit cptc.edu/info-sessions for more information.