Summer work helps shape careers

July 1, 2013

From “Summer work helps shape careers” — Lucas Nash and Julian Fogeltanz would both like to work someday in an environment-related job, and they hope their time at Chippewa Valley Technical College this summer will help with that endeavor.

On a recent bright, sunny day Nash, of Chippewa Falls, and Fogeltanz, of Menomonie, were on the grass outside the CVTC Business Education Center setting up equipment to determine the best location and angle for solar panels. The next day they assembled model windmills to see how wind energy can be converted to electricity.

The activities were part of summer jobs for the young men, who are taking part in the Workforce Resource Summer Youth Employment program. Administering funds from a federal grant, Workforce Resource hires young people from low-income families for summer jobs around the community. Part of the job includes attending classes at CVTC for a couple of weeks to explore long-term career options.

The career exploration segment focuses on four areas: blueprint reading, alternative energy, industrial mechanics and electromechanical engineering, according to Ginger Dutton, program coordinator from the Chippewa Falls Workforce Resource office.

“Our hope is for CVTC to provide some basic exploration in manufacturing,” Dutton said.

Fogeltanz, a Menomonie High School student, appreciated his experience.

“The energy stuff is kind of cool,” he said. “At least we’re getting outside. My career path is going to be environmental. I’d like to be a (state Department of Natural Resources) warden.”

Nash said he learned valuable information as part of the program.

“We were talking about different kinds of energy – fossil fuels, water, wind energy,” said Nash, who graduated from Chippewa Falls High School in May and will attend Fox Valley Technical College in the fall, where he plans to study to be a natural resources technician. “It gives me something else to think about.”

Cody Henrichs of Menomonie discovered an area of interest when he got a chance to work on one of CVTC’s high-tech welding simulators. He said he’d like to be a welder someday.

“We’re going through geothermal, wind and solar – both solar PV (photovoltaic) and solar thermal. They get to do some hands-on, setting up solar panels and taking temperature readings,” said CVTC instructor Steve Gutsch, who taught the energy and blueprint reading classes.

The content touches on career areas like construction, HVAC and energy, Gutsch said. “It gives them some idea of what’s out there.”

Dutton said the program has been around for about 25 years, dating back to when Workforce Resource was known as the Private Industry Council. The program is funded through the federal Workforce Investment Act. Youth ages 14 to 21 qualify through family income guidelines.

Those selected kick off the program with a picnic an orientation in a park, and the first part of their summer employment involves the CVTC portion, which is handled like a job. Workers are to show up on time, apply themselves, and complete tasks they’re given.

“They are learning work maturity skills as well while at CVTC,” Dutton said.

After two weeks at CVTC, the group is split up into various work locations throughout the Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls and Menomonie areas. They work at both nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Dutton noted Hope Gospel Mission’s Bargain Center as one location where program participants might work.



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