A Career Fair with a Purpose
MHS CFA Leader Academy students, MHS staff, Operator Zach Thomas, Mayor Thurman and community leaders
McEachern High School in Powder Springs, Georgia hosted a Career Fair that brought together over 100 dressed-to-impress high schoolers and attracted the attention of the Mayor, city dignitaries, and prominent community business leaders. And yet, if not for the tenacity of Chick-fil-A Leader Academy students, it may not have happened at all.
“Students refused to let this idea fail, because they could see the potential,” remarked Chick-fil-A Operator Zach Thomas, who sponsors McEachern High School (MHS). “This isn’t just a career fair; it’s an investment in the community.”
The idea surfaced three years ago during the school’s first year in the Chick-fil-A Leader Academy program. Despite good intentions, it never got off the ground. Instead of shelving the idea, the Career Fair’s two biggest student supporters, Omari Brown and Reggie Jackson, resurrected it when they returned as peer mentors to students in the 2nd program year. By processing their shortfalls from the previous year, Omari and Reggie were able to help their fellow students to launch the idea successfully.
This year, a new generation of Chick-fil-A Leader Academy students went even bigger. “We really wanted this to be about career development,” said MHS Facilitator Joshua Ford. So he and his students added a series of workshops that would not only prepare attendees, but allow them to enhance their status in the eyes of prospective employers at the Career Fair.
The workshops included Resume Building, Interview Training, and Business Networking and were led by professionals from AT&T, Incomm, and Kids Business Expo (a co-sponsor of the event). Students who attended one, two, or three workshops received bronze, silver, or gold status, respectively. Their status was then represented on IDs that the students shared with Career Fair businesses.
In the end, over 100 students attended each workshop with another 100+ at the Career Fair where more than 65 businesses were present— a huge success by any measure.
Chick-fil-A Leader Academy student alumnus Reggie Jackson spoke at the Career Fair, sharing his experience with the program, why it’s valuable, and how important it is to work for what you believe in.
At one point, Operator Zach Thomas stood in the middle of the Career Fair and paused, overwhelmed by the turnout and dedication of everyone in the room. “Two things made this possible,” explained Zach. “Joshua Ford’s outstanding leadership, and some serious hard work and passion on the part of these students to drive attendance.”
In fact, the caliber of which these Chick-fil-A Leader Academy students represent has not gone unnoticed by Zach. “These students represent the brand so innately and have such outstanding work ethic,” he said. “It has been a great opportunity for talent acquisition for the restaurant; we’ve made several hires since we started sponsoring.”
For both men, the event was a great testimony to the work ethic and dedication of this generation of students. “At a time when the world is so critical of young millennials, an event like this is a reminder of how committed and hungry they are to make an impact,” said Joshua.
In a note to the school, the Finance Director for the City of Powder Springs, Diane Belanger, said: “I was encouraged through my interactions with many young students motivated to work hard and contribute to their community. This is truly a prized program for your career-ready students.”
Perhaps the most rewarding part of this event was not preparing students, or even breaking the stigma of millennials, but rather uniting a community. What this event did was pull together teachers, community leaders, students, and local businesses for the united purpose of making a difference in young people’s futures. THAT is Impact Through Action.