BENNINGTON — Welcome back, April Career Month.
After a two-year pandemic hiatus, Bennington County’s robust Career Month is back, this year with 17 different events open to kindergarteners through adults — all designed to raise career awareness, training and job opportunities, costs of education versus projected income upon graduation, financial workshops and much more.
“This has become a model” for the rest of the state, said Bennington County Regional Commission Executive Director Bill Colvin. He said other areas of the state and region seek out Bennington County’s activities as they put together their own career programs.
“It’s a real point of honor for our region,” Colvin said.
The Bennington Select Board on Monday approved a proclamation officially declaring the month of April as Bennington Career Month.
The idea and format for what has become Career Month was launched about 12 years ago as Career Week, known as “We Make Cool Stuff,” and focused on manufacturing opportunities in the region. Over the years the week evolved into a two-week event and finally a full month, with the title now “Bennington County Works for Us.”
Events are planned to help kids as young as elementary students start thinking about careers, as well as help adults find jobs or change careers.
With the exception of the pandemic hiatus, April Career Month has grown annually in scope and popularity.
“This is our first return back in a post-COVID world,” Wendy Morse, regional manager of the Workforce Development Division at the Vermont Department of Labor, told the Select Board.
The events were put together by the Bennington County Workforce and Education Group, one of four working groups of the Bennington County Regional Commission. For a full — and routinely updated — schedule of events, visit bcrcvt.org/career-month.html .
Among the highlights:
• The annual College Fair will be held on April 6 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Mount Anthony Union High School gym. The event is open to all area students and parents. Representatives from over 75 colleges will be available to share information.
• The Vermont Department of Labor in Bennington also will present a range of convenient virtual workshops on topics, including Resume Writing (Mondays at 9 a.m. and Wednesdays at 1 p.m.), Interview Skills (Tuesdays at 9 a.m. and Fridays at 1 p.m.) and Re-employment Strategies (Wednesdays at 9 a.m.).
• The Northshire Career Expo at Burr & Burton Academy is on April 10 from 11 a.m. to 2:30. p.m. for grades nine through 11; Molly Stark Career Week during the week of April 10; CCV Open House and Information Night on April 12 at 5 p.m.; Bennington Elementary School Career Week during the week of April 24; Youth Robotics Demonstration on April 25 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Mount Anthony Union Middle School; the MAUMS career fair on April 26 from 8 to 10 a.m. in the gymnasium; and much more.
• There’s a Financial Reality Fair, in which area high school students explore the connection between education and careers — and have an opportunity to examine the financial implications of their choices. This interactive event will be April 28 at MAUHS from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and is open to all area juniors and seniors in Bennington County. Participants will receive a copy of the Promising Pathways booklet that outlines pathways to high paying careers in Vermont.
Jeannie Jenkins, a member of the Bennington County Workforce and Education Group and a driving force behind the Career Month, described what to expect at the Financial Reality Fair: A student might be interested in a health care career, perhaps nursing; they will learn about the cost of that degree, and what the salary will be upon graduation; how much will rent and car payments eat out of that income; and what happens financially when the unexpected cost occurs.
Additionally, in May, the Department of Labor is hosting a job fair on the 18th from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Bennington Banner and Manchester Journal will be highlighting Career Month events and topics throughout April. So stay tuned; there’s more to come.