Fox Chapel Area job fair presents opportunities

| Thursday, May 2, 2013, 1:46 a.m.

Of the 64 organizations at Fox Chapel Area High School's opportunities fair, Susan Yakim may have had the best pitch.

Yakim, who is with the moving company South Hills Movers, called out to passing students, “Seniors, I can get you away from your parents for the summer!”

It drew more than a little laughter.

Yakim said she was looking for students interested in working as movers during the summer on local, regional or national runs. Coming into a district like Fox Chapel Area and talking students into signing up for what can be hard, physical work isn't easy, she conceded.

“It is difficult,” Yakim said. “But a student can earn $5,000 over the course of a summer, and see the country at the same time.

“We're paying for everything you need out on the road, so you are actually banking $5,000 for college.”

That can sound pretty good to students like Taylor Huber, 18, a senior from O'Hara who plans to major in graphic design, possibly at Point Park University. He chatted with Yakim about employment for a few minutes.

“Maybe, possibly — it's an option,” said Huber when asked if he was interested. “I'm just getting ideas.”

Getting ideas is what the fair was all about — from where to go to school, getting a summer job or signing up for volunteer work, said John Baxter, career development coordinator for the district.

He said that hopefully, students will find a school, job or volunteer work that is compatible with the career portfolio — a plan each student starts preparing in ninth grade and then works on each year.

“I think it's good that they have opportunities for all the students, not just those who have an academic focus,” said Frank Lou, a 10th-grader from Fox Chapel.

Lou said he is planning for a career in medicine and hopes to land some volunteer work with a hospital.

At the time he spoke, he was waiting for a friend who was having an in-depth conversation with Ron Stefaniak of Apollo, who represented the Cement Masons Union. Stefaniak not only talked to students about masonry apprenticeships but careers in 18 building trades.

“There's enough diversity in the school here that not everyone wants to go to college,” Stefaniak said. “We offer an apprenticeship: The schooling is free; they only have to pay for their tools.

“If we don't get the word out, these young people aren't going to know,” he said. “We want them to know they can have a good living in the building trades.”

Katie Bischak manned a table for Triangle Tech, one of at least 10 business or technical schools at the fair.

“I don't know if they realize the good opportunities we have,” Bischak said.

But colleges still had an appeal to a lot of the young fair-goers, and one of those represented was Community College of Allegheny County.

Jim Bender of CCAC said he talked to a lot of students at the fair about what his school can offer.

“We have something for everybody,” Bender said. “You can't match our prices. If you look at everything we do, it's the quality and the affordability.”

Affordability is one reason Dan Yarmoski, 17, a senior from O'Hara, plans to attend CCAC. He talked with Bender about the timetables for matters like registering for classes.

Yarmoski said he plans to attend CCAC for two years and then transfer credits to the University of Pittsburgh to get a degree in information science and technology.

“My parents aren't going to be able to pay for much, so it's going to be on me,” Yarmoski said in talking about CCAC's affordability. “I got into Pitt and I got into Robert Morris; it's just that I didn't have the money.”

Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4675

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