Chilton College & Career Fair brings in hundreds

Published 12:28 pm Tuesday, September 26, 2023

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By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

For the fifth consecutive year, Chilton County Schools career coach Wendy Fortner put on the Chilton County College & Career Fair for high school seniors on Sept. 21, and it was a smashing success.

Fortner and fellow career coach Sjohna Hughes, who has been on maternity leave, welcomed 73 different businesses and colleges to speak and visit with seniors to give them a perspective of what is out there in post-high school life.

“It was actually better than what I was hoping (for), and we only had three businesses that did not show up and it was bigger than last year’s,” Fortner said. “I was really excited about the turnout we had, not just with the vendors but with the students as well.”

Fortner said multiple students approached her while at the fair and expressed their excitement of seeing colleges they were interested in attending the fair, and businesses in fields they may look at getting into one day.

The career coaches also introduced a new program to the fair this year as well. The coaches partnered with StriveScan, a college fair scanning app, that allows students to register with them and they send the student a QR code. Then, the colleges can scan those codes with a scanner from StriveScan at college fairs and it sends the colleges the student’s basic information like name, date of birth and email. The colleges can send their information to the students as well to have as opposed to carrying multiple different packets or booklets around the fair.

StriveScan also gives the career coaches a print out of how many students are interested in each college. At this year’s fair, the University of Alabama was the top school visited by students followed by Mississippi State University.

“I was excited to work with the (StriveScan) technology at the fair,” Fortner said. “This is the first year they had this, so I was kind of (weary), but it ended up working out great because the colleges have the student’s information, the students did not have to take so long at each booth and that gave them more time to get to others … I think it was good for everyone involved.”

There were around 50 combined colleges and businesses in attendance the first year of the fair. Now, the number has bloomed greater and the fair continues to get bigger each year.

“Each year we are learning that we need to tweak this or not do this,” Fortner said. “It is getting better and each year it seems like it is getting easier for me to make it bigger and bigger.”

Fortner gave a special thanks to businesses that helped sponsor the hospitality room at the fair — Coca-Cola, Martin Funeral Home, First Bank of Alabama and the Chilton County Chamber of Commerce.