PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — High schoolers planning for their future.
The relationship between the business community and local schools was on full display Tuesday at the annual Palm Beach County Claim Your Future Showcase.
More than 1,000 Palm Beach County high school students spoke to representatives from CareerSource, the military, and all different facets of the business community to see what their future can really look like.
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"I wanted to go to the Keiser University doctor of chiropractor program," said Brianna Lamothe, a junior at Seminole Ridge Community High School.
Lamothe mapped out her Tuesday morning at the Claim Your Future Showcase.
"I know that I might change what I want to become — which is a cardiothoracic surgeon — but for now I'm pretty sold and I have been since I was 12 years old. So I figured I may as well come here and get as much information as I can," Lamothe said.
Lamothe is already a step ahead, taking college level classes.
Having that plan is mind is really what this event is all about, preparing students for the workforce and making sure the experience they are getting in school lines up with the needs in the business community.
"The quality of our schools is a recurring question when they are promoting Palm Beach County to prospective businesses that may relocate," Superintendent Mike Burke of the School District of Palm Beach County said. "So we work really closely together to promote our Choice programs, 330 Choice programs that are designed and tailored to a lot of the business needs in Palm Beach County."
Burke said a big focus of the event is on students developing good communication skills as they interact with prospective employers.
"The soft skills. That's the number one thing I've heard from employers. That they need kids that are ready to work on a team, that can communicate, that can make eye contact and shake hands and represent their company well. They are actually more concerned with the soft skills, sometimes, than the technical skills," Burke said.
"I found an Army booth. I found a couple others that were able to give me some information. They helped me out with what I want to go for as a career," said JROTC student Jack Thomas.
Thomas said he now feels better prepared for life after high school. And Lamothe is well on her way to making her dream come true.
"I am always preparing for my future," Lamothe said.
Burke said he wants to continue building business partnerships for the school district's career academies to foster that career pathway. One example is the automotive academy at Seminole Ridge Community High School, which is now sponsored by Al Packer Ford.
"The business partners help us make sure we are staying on the cutting edge of technology," Burke said. "And I want to continue to build those partnerships so they can bring in industry experts to co-teach with our teachers."