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Helping each other grow

Business: SCV ‘unconference’ brings up-and-comers together to learn and aid one another in their car

Posted: June 25, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 25, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Attendees of last year’s CareerCamp SCV participate in one of day’s industry break-out sessions to meet with others in their fields of work.

 

In the spirit of “it takes a village,” a loosely formed group of four local business people got together last year to help local residents build the careers they were seeking.

Tired of hearing bad news about the employment market, the foursome got together to decide what they could do to help local residents.

With no formal organization, not even a bank account, Mitch Krayton, Anthony Michaelides, Risa Rosenthal and Douglas Welch created CareerCamp SCV.

“Everyone says the government has to bail us out of this, and we said, ‘No, we’re the government,’” Krayton said.

“Unconference”
The idea for the event was inspired by Welch, when he took an idea from the high-tech world of business and applied it to the needs of career builders.

Billed as the “unconference,” the free one-day event is scheduled again this year, and will be hosted by the College of the Canyons. It is designed to support adults who are either underemployed or out of work.

Using a different approach than a regular conference, the career topics addressed are determined in a democratic fashion based on subjects attendees determine are the most important to them.

Posting topics of interest on a wall the day of the event, attendees vote on the subjects they believe will be of the greatest value for them personally in their career building efforts.

Participants vote on the posted topics and those subjects that earn the most votes become the focus of an ad hoc presentation by local businesspeople.

Subjects addressed at last year’s event included salary negotiations, finding where the jobs are, proper protocol and resumes.

Special interest break-out groups were also organized in specific career fields for those who wanted to meet others in their field of work.

“This concept promotes the village,” said Dale Berry, an attendee at the first event held last year. “This was collaboration at its best and an important model from which to build.”

Not a career fair
The career camp conference is not a job fair, the organizers want to stress. It is a gathering led by the attendees themselves by virtue of the presentation topics being decided upon by the participants.

People trying to build a career or find a better job can’t afford to go out and hire consultants, Krayton said. The event is all about the attendees, what they need and empowering them.

Supporting companies or business leaders have one ground rule to follow: They cannot sell their organization. The goal is to help address questions or needs the attendees have.

“Organizing a positive event like CareerCamp, where attendees control the day, is very uplifting for the attendees,” Welch said.

“They might be struggling with unemployment or underemployment, but this is one day where they can take control of their future,” he said.

Local companies
Some of the 100 companies providing support for this year’s event include the Lockheed Credit Union, SCV Bank, Nissan of Valencia and Salt Creek Grille, said Krayton.

Sprouts Farmers Market has donated recycled shopping bags for presentation and event materials.

“CareerCamp SCV would not be the wonderful event it is without the tremendous support of our community,” Krayton said.

The WorkSource center at the school will also be open so participants have the opportunity to explore posted job listings.

The conference can only accommodate 150 attendees. Sixty-six had already preregistered by Thursday.

Since the debut of the “unconference” last year, the organizers said they have received requests from other communities in California to develop the event in other cities.

“We are just four people who wanted to do something for the community,” Krayton said. “We didn’t see anybody else doing it so we just sat down and decided this has to be done.”

The career camp is open, July 16 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at College of the Canyons.

For more information and to register online, go to careercampscv.wordpress.com.

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