Showcase Your Best

In just a few days, my older son will be attending Experience Hendrix, a traveling rock concert featuring some of the best guitarists in the world playing a variety of Jimi Hendrix tunes. (For you musicians, check it out here to see if they’re coming to your town: It really is the best of the best, with Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani, Dweezil Zappa, Zakk Wylde and many others…it promises to be an awesome show.)

As I thought about this concert, I realized what a great opportunity it was for all of these top-tier musicians to build their visibility. If just one of them was coming to town, we may or may not get tickets – but with a lineup of so many epic guitarists on hand, how could we miss it? By joining together they’ll each reach so many more people than they would alone; resulting in more followers, merchandise sales, and more future concert attendees.

Why not apply that thinking to CTE?

Most districts, at least those with more than a couple of high schools, offer school fairs, so people can come learn about the different opportunities offered by each. Why not put on a CTE fair, either as part of the school fair or as its own standalone event?

Ask each program to find something “flashy” – students welding and showing off what they’ve made, healthcare students working on a CPR manikin, engineering students creating 3-D products, and the like. Be sure students are ready to talk about what they’re doing, and ideally ask a business partner or two to be on hand to talk about the kinds of opportunities this training leads to. Make sure every attendee leaves with an armful of material and contact information for additional questions. Finally, market like crazy. Supplement the marketing efforts of the district with your own, to make sure every rising high school student has an opportunity to come through and see the best of what CTE can be.

If a group concert helps some of the best guitarists in the world reach a wider audience, that same model can be just as effective for you and your fellow CTE leaders in attracting new students!

Brett Pawlowski is Executive Vice President of NC3T, the National Center for College and Career Transitions ( NC3T provides planning, coaching, technical assistance and tools to help community-based leadership teams plan and implement their college-career pathway systems and strengthen employer connections with education.

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