Don’t Let Fear Stop You from Planning a Construction Career Day
This blog post was originally published on Breaking Ground: the NCCER Blog, and was re-posted with permission.
“Organizing a successful construction career day is so easy,” said no one…ever. However, “organizing a successful construction career day is fun and rewarding” can be heard from at least five individuals in San Antonio, Texas. We might not be saying that in the weeks leading up to the event, but we definitely say that after the event is over when we remember the smiling faces of students and instructors who appreciated the effort.
Events like these require so many individual pieces that must come together seamlessly. A bit of good luck certainly doesn’t hurt either. If I was asked what the secret to success is for a career day, it would be impossible to say only one thing. It is a culmination of determination, stubbornness, friendship and knowing our efforts will pay off in the end. It’s the cooperation of industry professionals, contractors, trade associations and area school districts working together for a common good. In the construction industry, this is what we do – we make things work.
We have been asked if we were scared going into the first career fair that we organized in San Antonio. The funny thing is we weren’t scared because, thankfully, we were too ignorant and determined to allow fear to get in the way of our success. This is the single most important thing I would tell anyone contemplating organizing an event like this: Don’t let fear stop you. Use that fear as the motivating factor to work harder and smarter. Make mistakes and know that all of us who have done this before have made plenty of them! The day we signed the contract with the venue for the first event we had exactly $0 and a $3,000 commitment. You better believe we were scared, but we took that fear and went out and raised $3,000!
To host a successful construction career day, it is important to assemble a “dream team.” What that means is really up to you. For us, it was five hard-headed, lone wolves who believed it could happen and were willing to do the work to make it happen. We researched other events that were successful, and we attended events prior to planning ours to get ideas and see what worked and what didn’t. We aren’t ashamed to say we learned from others’ successes and mistakes. We didn’t take a sneaky approach to do this either. That’s one of the wonderful things about this industry, especially the education side. Almost everyone is willing to share ideas and help one another. We’re working toward the same goal!
In the end, it all comes down to fundraising, which will make or break your event. The money should come from corporate sponsorships and exhibitor registrations. This can be the most trying part of the process. How do we get contractor buy in? We encountered the same resistance from some of the contractors we approached to be part of the event. The same question came up time and time again. “What’s in it for me?” That’s a great question and the answer is the same for everyone. We are simply creating awareness and interest where there is none. We are giving the youth of our communities an opportunity to learn about the endless opportunities our industry has to offer. Perhaps this isn’t the direct and immediate impact a few of our contractors are looking for, but for the most part, contractors see the value of investing in the future of our workforce.
We encourage all communities to take on the task of organizing construction career day events. Regardless of size, the impact will always be great.
About the Author
Cherie Foerster oversees all operation of the organization and has written and copyrighted a curriculum that provides high school students with soft skills training and exploration of the construction industry. Cherie serves as a full-time instructor for the Pre-Employment Architectural and Construction Exploration Program (PACE) with the Builders’ Exchange of Texas, as well as provides OSHA training to both students and industry professionals. She is also a founding member of Texas Construction Career Initiative and serves as vice president and treasurer of the organization, which provides an annual construction career day.