Alonzo Hankerson said it took him about 30 minutes to put on his blue suit and tie in preparation for a youth job fair in Largo.
The 17-year-old Potomac High School student chatted with several perspective employers such as Samson Properties, a real estate firm in Oxon Hill, in hopes of at least obtaining an internship this summer.
“They told me some tips on how to get into the field of real estate, getting good mentors [and] making sure you’re always on time,” said Alonzo, an 11th-grader with an interest in marketing and social media. “I’m hoping I get the experience and some job opportunities on the career choice I want to have.”
He joined 18 of his classmates and more than two dozen other students from Parkdale High School that participated in the Youth CareerConnect job fair led by Employ Prince George’s on Friday.
The students from Potomac and Parkdale participated in the morning session and students from Bladensburg and Fairmount Heights high schools attended the fair.
Yolanda Tully, director of the county’s Youth CareerConnect program, said the chosen students are based on the county executive office’s Transforming Neighborhood Initiative, or TNI. Students from those schools reside in areas former County Executive Rushern L. Baker III designated to receive additional services based on economics, health, public safety and other social ills.
Besides interviewing with about two dozen companies such as CVS Pharmacy, National Institutes of Health and Benten Technologies headquarters in Manassas, Virginia, students received advice at learning labs on how to handle a job interview, dressing for success and secrets to the college admission process.
The county received a $7 million Youth CareerConnect grant in April 2014 from the federal Department of Labor, which seeks to help more than 2,500 high school students obtain skills, internships and college credit in the industries of health care and information technology.
However, the grant expires this summer.
“We need the resources to help more young people,” Tully said.
Meanwhile, Jasmine Brice, 16, expressed interest in health care, entrepreneurship and interior design.
After Chris Valentine, 23, who manages his own media, photography and video consulting business, gave opening remarks to the students, Brice sat down next to him and focused her attention on nearly every word he said.
“He told me how I would own my interior designer business, what I need to do, what were his steps for [running a business],” said Brice, a 10th-grader at Parkdale in Riverdale. “If I go on vacation, then I still need to do my work and have my money rolling in and be on point.”
High school seniors such as Jon Robertson, who turns 18 on Sunday, aggressively sought companies who would offer summer internships in information technology. He summarized his goal to troubleshoot problems that occur within computer systems and on social media.
“Being here is helping me learn … what I can do with IT,” said Jon, who attends Potomac in Oxon Hill. while scanning through a list of employers at the job fair. “I’m looking to go to college and get a career opportunity from this.”