TKHS Career Fair Brings Students and Employers Together

“With COVID, kids just haven’t been able to explore a lot of career and job possibilities,” said Layn Welker, a TKHS virtual teacher. “The companies were happy to come and talk to students and maybe find workers. A lot of companies are hiring right now. They can’t find enough workers. But a lot of our high school students don’t know about the opportunities out there.”

Senior Natalie O’Riley said the event opened her eyes to more possibilities. “I have a job planned, but this really has me thinking. There’s a lot more out there than I knew,” she said.

Jenna Straub said she was intrigued after talking with representatives from the YMCA and the different types of jobs that exist there. “I just really never thought about working there before. I had no idea there were so many possibilities.”

Stacee English and Amanda Ekins with Viking Corp. said they were very impressed with the students and how they asked questions and were interested in learning more. “This is the first thing we’ve been able to be at in person. We haven’t been able to give the tours and kinds of things we normally do with students,” said English who encouraged students to sign up for a tour of their facility.

Sara Whisler with Flexfab said they’ve done some virtual events this year, but this was the first in-person fair. “Virtual is nice but it’s not the same. We definitely appreciate being here and being able to engage with the students.”

Bethany Kruger and Emily Bush, lead teachers at Education Station, said they ran out of applications not long after the fair started. “We need people and several students were interested. We learned we need to bring more applications next time,” said Kruger.

Student interest seemed to especially pique  when company representatives talked about tuition-reimbursement programs or summer internships that could lead to a full-time job immediately after college. “Anyone that helps with college costs is always a bonus,” said Straub.

Students learned companies aren’t just offering tuition reimbursement, though. Many companies offer paid internships, flexible schedules, working remotely and the possibility of full or part-time work.

Kirk Mulder with the company called Hastings caught the attention of students as he extended a fiberglass pole several feet in the air and discussed its use within the utility industry. “The utility industry is one industry that hasn’t had to worry about layoffs or shut downs. It’s a good, steady job,” he said.

Joe Johnson, a paramedic/firefighter, said more students interested in the field are definitely needed. “We’re in desperate need of fire and EMS people,” said Johnson.  “I’ve been talking to the students about the training they’ll need and a little about what it’s like to do this job.”

As much as companies appreciated being able to educate students about their employment options, students said they were equally thankful to learn about so many local opportunities.

“I’ve actually been curious about different jobs and having all these companies here gives me some ideas for the future,” said TKHS junior Eli Fliearman.

“I never knew there were so many companies around here. It’s nice to see all the options,” said Matthew Smith, another TKHS junior.

Payton Wilkinson said he learned a lot just from talking with company representatives. “I think this has given me some things to think about and maybe helped me narrow down my choices for the future.”

TK Board of Education President Kristen Cove helped Welker establish the event. “It’s really a win-win for everyone. The students learn about opportunities and the employers, who are desperately looking for workers, have been able to show students employment opportunities.”

Companies attending the TKHS Career Fair:

Manufacturing Sector 

Hastings Fiberglass

Bradford White

Middleville Tool and Die



Hastings Manufacturing

Lacks Enterprises 

Autocad Medical


Architect, Engineering and Construction Sector

Owen, Ames and Kimbel

Vanlaan Concrete 

Vandyken Mechanical 

Choice Concrete 

Burgess Concrete 

Healthcare Sector

Thornapple Manor 

Thornapple Fire and EMS 

West Michigan Eye Care 

Advent Physical Therapy 

KCC Dental Hygienist Program 

Finance Sector


High Point Community Bank 

Edward Jones

Thornapple Valley Credit Union

Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Sector

Zook Farm Equipment



Public Safety Sector

Barry County Central Dispatch

Barry County Community Mental Health

Barry County Sheriff's Department

Barry County Corrections Department

Transportation Sector

Berger Chevy 

Dewey’s I-CAR Auto Body

Technology Sector

Grand Valley Automation 

Education and Training Sector

YMCA of Barry County

Education Station  

Branches of the Armed Forces

Air Force 




Insurance Sector

Farmers Insurance Company