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story.lead_photo.caption Administrations representative Molly Jettmar, left, introduces herself to high school students from Nichols Career Center on Wednesday as she discusses the types of programs offered at the University of Central Missouri during the center's career fair at The Linc. Roughly 250 students, consisting of mostly juniors and seniors, attended the fair and had a chance to speak with 24 representative groups about their future careers. Nichols Career Center plans to partner with The Linc to host their career and interview fairs until construction of for a large enough boardroom is complete at Nichols sometime next year. Photo by Sally Ince / News Tribune.

Nichols Career Center held a career fair Wednesday at The Linc that's the first of its kind in a long time, and Nichols staff hope the event will continue.

Nichols counselor Travis Plume said last month — the career fair had to be rescheduled to this month because of winter weather cancellations — the career center wanted to have an event of its own in addition to the college and career fair held by Jefferson City High School.

"What we wanted to do is provide something during the time they're with us" during the school day and that's directly related to the program offerings at Nichols, Plume said of what the career center wanted to provide its students.

He said institutions and programs invited to the fair included: State Tech; Lincoln University; Columbia College; the University of Central Missouri; State Fair Community College; Metro Business College; Moberly Area Community College; Ozarks Technical Community College; Missouri Welding Institute; the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marines Corps; the National Guard; Dogwood Dental Assisting School; and painter, carpenter, roofer, sheet metal and electrical worker unions.

Plume said Wednesday the intentionally specific invitations are what set the Nichols event apart from other career fairs.

He added an electrical workers union representative told him he was impressed by how students were focused and had good questions to ask.

"We built it in as a lesson," Plume said of how teachers have prepared their students for the fair with questions to ask — such as on job availability, industry growth prospects, attendance policies, advancement opportunities, interviewing tips, retention rates, financial aid, hands-on experience opportunities, job placement rates, campus life, and questions about military duties and benefits.

Plume said last month there may have been attempts at a Nichols career fair in the more distant past, but this is "the first one in recent history." He said it's been at least 15 years since a previous fair.

He added Nichols' opportunities for such an event at its own facility have been limited by space — or lack thereof — though he added that will be different once renovations are completed.

Jefferson City Public Schools anticipates the renovation of Nichols shop classrooms will be completed over this coming summer, along with JCHS's current gym, cafeteria, kitchen, commons and administrative offices.

The final renovations on the JCHS and Nichols site are expected to be completed in January 2020, with the enclosed connector between the two buildings planned to be finished in October 2019.

Plume said Wednesday "we're going to have a comparable space in the first floor of Nichols" after renovations, similar to the career fair space used at The Linc.

He complimented staff at The Linc and the city's Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry for their work in providing Nichols with space in the meantime.

Plume said at least 250 students had signed up for the career fair; they were bused over Wednesday in groups of approximately 50 in each of six, 30-minute shifts.

Nichols has nearly 300 juniors and seniors enrolled in 11 different trade and industry programs this year. Plume said Nichols would like to make its career fair an annual event.

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