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Fox Cities job fair focuses on a younger crowd

8th graders learn about possible career paths from employers at today's career expo, April 18, 2016 (WLUK/John Doran).

If you thought eighth grade was too early to think about a career path, think again.

The Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual eighth grade career expo Monday.

"We can give students exposure to the different industries and opportunities before they get into high school and they choose their classes and choose the different programs and opportunities that they may decide to get involved with later on," Emily Feagles, Fox Cities Chamber program manager said.

2,600 students from all over the Fox Valley were able to meet one-on-one with businesses from various industries.

"This career fair gives them the opportunity to see all of the other careers that are out there," Feagles said. "Besides what their parents do, or maybe aunt and uncle."

Bodlt, which has multiple Wisconsin locations, sponsored Monday's event.

They say that even at an early age, locating students' interests can be key in zeroing in on a potential career.

"We know eighth grade can be a little awkward sometimes," Barry Scholz, Boldt Director of Labor Relations said, "so if you pull out their interests and what they're good at in grades we can relate it to a job application."

And as of a few years ago, the eighth grade career expo has gotten a lot more hands on, leading to more productive conversations between students and employers.

"How can you make it exciting for kids to want to come and talk to you guys and learn more about not only your industry, but also your business as well?" Feagles said.

And on the tenth year of this job fair, some who have been around long enough have even seen the fruits of their labor.

"We've had some success stories relating to this job fair," said Scholz, "and then going into the job shadowing and then into the career exposure."

The 13 and 14-year-olds attending the expo may not realize it, but they could be taking steps towards landing their dream job.

Starting with the 2017-2018 school year, schools will have to provide academic and career planning services for students in Middle and High school.

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