State of Jobs Conference Demystifies Career Search



In an effort to introduce parents and teenagers to the confounding world of college and career paths, Sarasota’s annual State of Jobs Conference serves to delineate and demystify the sometimes-vague connection between the way an education can provide employable skills for the modern workforce. First began by the Young Professionals Group and now a regional event organized by CareerSource Suncoast, the yearly seminar/job fair hopes to inform and hopefully excite attendees about the limitless possibilities of the 21st century career landscape, rather than leaving teenage students to grapple with their post-high school lives unprepared. And just yesterday, CareerSource welcomed crowds of these students and their parents to the latest State of Jobs Conference at Robarts Arena.

The morning sessions ran from 8am to 2pm and primarily for students, who numbered over 800 in this fourth year, after the first-time inclusion of Manatee County schools. “We want students to start thinking about their future now,” says Chris Laney, director of education and community investment with CareerSource Suncoast. His hope is that the sophomores in attendance can “explore some of their options earlier,” he says, so that by the time they graduate they have a plan. Six possible career tracks were given special attention this year, including healthcare, information technology, hospitality/tourism and arts/culture.

The exploration is thorough, as it features talks given by 75 speakers, many of them industry leaders in the private sector, in addition to admissions counselors from the 18 schools represented from around the state. Variety was key, with speakers coming from disparate organizations such as the Baltimore Orioles, Wells Fargo and Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, with plenty of local representation from arts organizations like Florida Studio Theatre and the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County, as well as schools like New College of Florida and Keiser University. The program’s success is in the pudding, as many former attendees have gone on to have careers directly boosted by the networking opportunities available at the seminars. Ranging from engineering and IT talks to healthcare and humanities information sessions, students get the kind of trustworthy behind-the-scenes tips that can help clarify their interests and channel their strengths into a viable, productive living. 

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