Magazine School District's 'reverse' job was a step forward for many

Alex Gladden
Fort Smith Times Record
The Magazine School District organized a "reverse job fair" on May 4. All the students who participated got job offers.

At a typical job fair, businesses set up booths and wait for people to approach them. At the reverse job fair, the students set up booths and waited for the businesses to approach them, Magazine Superintendent Beth Shumate said. 

The businesses were also able to review the students' profiles before the fair to know which students they were most interested in seeing. 

Many of the 37 students who participated got more than one job offer, Shumate said. About 50 businesses attended the fair, Principal Blake Beggs.  

The Magazine School District organized a "reverse job fair" on May 4. All the students who participated got job offers.

The school district partnered with Western Arkansas Workforce and the South Logan County Chamber of Commerce to put on the event. 

All the students who participated were graduating seniors and are ready to join the workforce, Shumate said. 

“It is important for us because we want our students to achieve whatever career goals they set out for," Shumate said. 

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This was the first of what Shumate hopes to be an annual event. Beggs said he expects for the reverse career fair to be even bigger next year. 

Senior Youa Lee received an offer to work as a bank teller at Bank OZK, a move that sets her up for a career in finance, she said. 

“It helps me get a leg up in, getting my feet wet in the finance field," Lee said. 

Before the reverse job fair, senior Nathaniel Bryan said he did not know what he wanted to do with his life. 

At the fair, he received four or five job offers and plans to accept a job to work at Bank OZK. 

“For me, it was just finding something that interested me," Bryan said. 

Senior Sydnie Pickartz was given a few job offers but decided to pursue a position with International Student Exchange. There she will be placing international students with schools and host families. It is a job that Pickartz plans to work through college at Arkansas Tech University. 

Pickartz said besides helping her to find a job, the reverse career fair gave her experience in interviewing. 

“I really think it taught us how to sell ourselves too," Pickartz said. 

Shumate called the reverse career fair life-changing and said that the it can help students escape the generational poverty that so entrenches the area. 

“In schools, we talk a lot about affecting our students and helping them become successful and changing their lives, but this event is bigger than that it can not only change students lives but it can change families' lives," Shumate said. 

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Beggs agreed. 

"Being in a high poverty area, it’s hard for our kids to break that poverty cycle,” he said. 

 They both said that this was a way to set their students up to be successful. 

“Sometimes students think their goals are out of reach, and it became very tangible for them yesterday," Shumate said. 

It is also important to expose the students to jobs outside of Magazine, where there are not very many open positions, Beggs said. 

“So when our kids get out they have an option to go to work," Beggs said.