LTC helps students find career path

January 14, 2014

 From htrnews.com: “Finding a path: Area students take part in Career Expo” — CLEVELAND — Although the halls of Lakeshore Technical College are bare of college students this week, the classrooms are alive with the sound of high school students as sophomores forge paths toward careers after graduation.

Approximately 1,000 sophomores from highs schools across the county participated in a two-day Career Expo at Lakeshore Technical College. The career exploration program, which also continues today, was separated into three sections aimed at helping students find a career path suited to their interests.

“Today is a day that opens their horizons to look at many different facets of possible career choices,” Karen Szyman, executive director of The Chamber of Manitowoc County, said. “Hopefully it will get them on the path of thinking and choosing classes that are associated with those careers.”

The first section, a traditional career expo, allowed students to interact with 22 different business leaders in the community to discuss employment opportunities. Business leaders discussed skills needed for specific jobs and highlighted lesser-known careers students might be interested in.

“I think they look at a nursing home and think, ‘I’d have to be a nurse,’” said Tracy Miller, human resources director at Shady Lane Nursing Care Center. “I have to convince them there are many other areas. There are more things happening behind the scenes than just caring for the residents.”

Variety of ambitions

The approximately 500 sophomores at LTC on Thursday were mixed on their career ambitions. Some, such as sophomore Vanessa Bautista of Two Rivers, focused on a career, such as health care, while others, such as Autumn Conjurski, were not so sure.

“I would like to help people. I just have an interest in that,” Bautista said. “I’d always wanted to be a doctor to help people who were injured.”

Conjurski, also of Two Rivers, said she was considering a career in graphic design, but was looking at other options, too.

“I plan to help other people with my disability, autism, or be an animator or video game designer,” she said. “My brother plays a lot of video games and always asks me to make something. I always say, ‘sure, whenever I get the right skills to do it.’”

Her friend, Sheryl VanGinkel, was set on pursuing a career in the psychology field.

“I love the human brain and how people react with certain things,” she said.

The career fair provides benefits to both types of students, Heidi Soodsma, the finance and program manager for the Chamber, noted.

“The importance is career exploration for students,” she said. “For some, it is there first exposure to different career opportunities. A lot of schools do career planning, but this is an opportunity for students to talk directly to the experts in their field.”

Job interviews

In addition to the traditional career fair, human resource professionals were on-hand to educate students on employability skills, such as creating resumes or going to job interviews.

“Present a winning impression,” RaeAnn Thomas of Seek Careers Staffing in Manitowoc, told a classroom of students. “You are not the only one for a job interview, and you want to stand out.”

In other classrooms throughout LTC, students met with, and asked questions of, employees within their desired field. In total, 90 volunteers from local businesses attended the fair.

Eric Haban, a machinist at LDI Industries in Manitowoc, said the discussions provided students with valuable career information, but also allowed businesses direct access to potential future employees.

“We get a big pipeline of potential candidates into the welding and manufacturing field from this program,” Haban said. “I got a call out of the blue last year from a parent who said their kid watched our presentation and wanted to know more about industrial maintenance.”

Haban, who said he found his calling at the Career Fair years ago, returns every year to talk with students.

“I think what attracts me to come back every year is I remember sitting out here in 10th grade and thinking about the career options that were out here,” he said. “I want the students to know that manufacturing is thriving and is not a dying career. There are good opportunities to make a decent living in the skills area.”

Haban met with students, such as sophomore Sam Oswald, who said he was looking into a career in electrical engineering

“My dad works at Manitowoc Company, so I was checking that out,” Oswald said.

Organizers said they hoped the program inspired students to begin thinking now about their future career plans.

“Apply yourself now,” Jon Shambeau, an engineer at Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry, told a group of students. “Now is the time to do it, because other things will come at you way to fast. Today is the day.”

 

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