Support Chicago Public Library with a gift of any level.

Career Days for Teens are Back at CPL

The successful College and Career Saturday’s event returns to CPL branches to provide teens with information on different career paths.

Not Your Average Career Fair

Career Days for Teens at CPL. Teens are painting a sign with the Sign Painters Local 830 Union.
Teens painting with the Sign Painters Local 830.

The Richard J. Daley branch’s entertainment room was livelier than usual on a rainy Saturday morning. More than 50 teens and their families gathered for YOUmedia’s second College and Career Saturday of the year. This time, to hear all about careers in trades and construction.  

Full of tables with pamphlets, presenters from different trade careers, constructions demos, painting sessions, and scavenger hunts, one thing was for certain – this was not your typical Career Fair.

It was designed with teen input in mind!

“We asked our teens which fields they’d be most interested in,” says Faith Rice, a teen librarian and College and Career Specialist at Chicago Public Library.

The top of the list? Careers in coding and computing, trades, beauty, social services, health and environmental science. From these results, Faith and other teen staff committee got to work – developing an innovative career fair tailored to teen interests while making sure to leave room for fun activities.

All About Trades

Did you know that by 2028 there will be more than 3 million trade job openings, across different industries including construction, information technology, manufacturing, and public services among others? So, how do you get into trades? Ask the professionals!

Teens heard from union workers, carpenters, painters, and other professionals from III FCC – Operating Engineers Local 150, Pink Hard Hatz, We Can Build It Consortium, CREATE Program, Dawson Technical Institute, Roofers and Waterproofers Local 11, Chicago Architecture Center and many more on how to get started in these careers. Industry experts walked highschoolers and their families through the step-by-step career journey to trades – from  getting your diploma, finding the right program and certification, finding your first job and more.  

“It’s been so helpful hearing about these careers from people in these fields. I’ve heard real experiences and challenges about getting into this career path and I’ve been able to ask all the questions I have.”

– Shalamar, a YOUmedia teen/career Saturday participant

Teens were also able to try activities that give them a clearer idea what a career in trade career entails, like virtual reality coding or forensic scanning. “The activities were super informative and fun. I hadn’t heard of some of these careers, but the Library made them more accessible,” said Mary Angel.

Rocio, a mother of two teenage boys, says this event has opened her and her son’s eyes to all that’s possible within a trade career. “There was so much we didn’t know about being an electrician or being in a painting union – a whole new world has opened up for my oldest,” she says. “Both of my sons are still trying to figure out what to do career wise and it’s great for them to have options.”

Opening More Doors

After talking to trade professionals around the room, teens also got to listen to a panel discussion on trade careers and ask more questions that they may not have gotten the chance to ask earlier in the day. From asking what drew them to their career to asking for advice, teens received useful and valuable information as they explore the future after high school.

Rocio says she’s taking a bag full of pamphlets for her other son to look through. “This was my first time coming to this event, but I’m interested in the others they have planned. The more options for my kids, the better. I want them to see that there’s many ways for them to succeed.”  

The next College and Career Saturdays is happening on May 20 and the theme is Beauty, Hair, and Fashion. Learn more and see a full list of upcoming events and panelists here. Thank you to YOUmedia for providing teens with the resources they need to succeed in school and beyond. Thank you to Allstate, Comcast, Exelon, Peoples Gas and generous donors like you for helping give students access to programs like this.

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up-to-date with stories from the branches.