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Students & Communities

Connecting Students in Rural Schools to STEM Career Pathways

High schoolers in Washington's Yakima Valley attended a virtual career fair with STEM professionals.  

Students participating in a virtual career fair

August 14, 2019

Professionals in medicine, electrical engineering, and user experience research took time to speak one-on-one with Sunnyside High School students on April 18, 2019 at our second Virtual Career Fair in the Yakima Valley.

Sunnyside is 200 miles from the tech-centric Seattle area, so STEM opportunities can feel far removed or distant. This program provides students with the opportunity to converse with STEM industry professionals in hopes of showing the field in a more tangible light. The goal was to expand on a Virtual Career Fair hosted by TFA Washington and TFA alumna Sara Bowers (WA ‘14) at Grandview High School in 2018 and provide face-time to a more diverse set of students.

Conversations ranged from which courses to pursue in college, how to seek out internships and other opportunities that will help them prepare for college, and fields of study students may not have known existed. Alexandra Barrazza (WA ‘16) shared about the impact on her students after the event: “Smiles and laughter filled the students' faces as professionals shared their experiences, gave advice, and answered students' specific questions. This event was a huge success and I want to be able to offer this opportunity every year to our students.”

“[The event] was incredibly impactful. Students left their conversations with contacts and knowledge that they didn't have before. The professionals really connected with students and provided them with the information that they wanted and needed,” Alyson Spidle (WA ‘19) said when reflecting on the impact of the Virtual Career Fair. 

In addition to the professionals that volunteered to participate, this career-connected learning event was made possible by a grant from Boeing.

If you would like information about how to host a Virtual Career Fair at your school, please reach out to Natalie Hanni at natalie.hanni@teachforamerica.org