Seeking work, life lessons

The Baltimore Sun

Nazleen Khan was looking for something to keep her busy during summer vacation.

At a job fair for teenagers, the Atholton High School sophomore found possible summer employment and volunteer positions.

"I came because I needed a summer job, and I was looking around to see what's in the community for volunteer opportunities," she said. This was the first time she had attended the annual fair, an event she heard about at school.

"There are a lot of volunteer opportunities, and I'm considering a lot of the programs," Khan said.

About 1,500 teenagers and parents attended the third Teen Job and Volunteer Fair, hosted by HC DrugFree, on Saturday at Long Reach High School. Howard County General Hospital sponsored the event.

More than 85 exhibitors set up booths at the fair. Other activities included workshops on interviewing skills and tips for succeeding on the job, as well as a "Dress for Success" and prom-dress fashion show.

Yoon Shin, also an Atholton High sophomore, said he attended the fair for similar reasons.

"I just really needed volunteer stuff and jobs, maybe for the summer, so I don't waste my summer," he said. Shin said he was particularly interested in volunteering at the library.

Exhibitors, which featured jobs, the military, camps and classes, said the job fair is an ideal place to find volunteers and summer employees.

"Last year, we filled all our summer positions by coming to the job fair," said Kitty Vlijter, director of human resources for Turf Valley Resort in Ellicott City.

"Typically the students are so excited. It's just a joy to be here. ... It's been a good experience to get good-quality summer staff."

Kimberley Gordy, who works with the Maryland Leadership Workshops, said she and a colleague ran out of applications for Journey, the organization's summer program for girls.

"It's great that this is our target audience," said Gordy, co-director of the Journey program.

Teens said the fashion shows were also a learning experience. Fashion consultant Claudia Bellony was emcee for the shows.

"She said moccasins were a bad thing to wear to an interview," said Ariel Peterson, a Long Reach High School senior. "I didn't know that."

Peterson said that at last year's job fair she learned not to wear leggings to an interview.

Brent Jackson, a Long Reach High School freshman, wore a navy blue pinstripe suit and tie for the "Dress for Success" fashion show. He said he wanted to help teens who don't know the appropriate way to dress for job interviews.

"I think a lot of people think their style will work everywhere," Jackson said.

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