Youth Challenge Program cadets take part in career fair

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The Louisiana National Guard’s Youth Challenge Program hosted a career fair for the cadets Thursday.

YCP Director Jason Montgomery says the purpose of the event is to pair cadets with companies and recruiters to show them what’s available to them once they leave the residential portion of the 17-month program.

“For me and for the staff, it’s really about exposure,” he said. “We work with the kids on their post-residential action plan and with that, cadets start early in the cycle. They have lofty goals, and we work on refining those goals.

So, based on their interests, we reach out to these businesses, colleges, community colleges where we see a lot of our kids go into upon graduation.”
Several colleges, such Shreveport Southern, Louisiana State University, Louisiana Delta Community College, Bossier Parish Community College and Northwest Louisiana Technical College, were there to guide the cadets in following through with their education.

Representatives from the the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery program, the Louisiana Workforce Commission and recruiters for the military spoke with the cadets as well. Also in attendance was Walgreens, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and Blalock’s Beauty.

Walter Morgan, owner of Woo’s Barbershop, says a few of the cadets expressed interest in becoming a hair stylist or barber.

“With a barber, you can work an apprenticeship,” he said. “You’re schooling within the barbershop, but you only go to school once a week. We’ve had a couple of them interested, and some have already been cutting hair.”

Military recruiters, such as the U.S. Navy were there to talk to the cadets about the opportunities afforded with a military career. Petty Officer First Class Joshua Williams says the military can help them pay for their continuing education, and on the plus side, they already know what it’s like to be in boot camp.

“I like to think of it as a paid getaway with a military background,” he said. “It gives them standard pay, great skills.”

James Sanders, ASVAB program manager, says the test is more than just a placement test for the military. He says schools all over the country use the test to show students’ strengths and weaknesses.

“A lot of people think the ASVAB is strictly about the military,” he said.

“They also made it for career exploration, meaning that a person who takes this test, will learn their strengths and weaknesses for the ACT or SAT tests. We find out where they are academically.”

He says the kids can use it to join the military and the score is good for two years. Any student testing to join the military must make a score of 31 to qualify for entry.

Montgomery says they have 50 vendors they have connections with, and 14 came Thursday.

“This is actually the biggest one we’ve had so far,” he said.

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