Decade of opportunity


Ten years have come and gone for the Industry Possibilities and Opportunities Day at Seymour High School.

Organizers say the technology and job fair, conducted Wednesday, is going just as strong as ever.

“The companies coming out are changing their booths for the better every year, but I feel like the students are getting more excited every year,” said Jody Deckard, workforce coordinator with Jackson County Industrial Development Corp. and one of the organizers for IPOD.

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Students from county schools were allowed to attend the program, averaging between 500 and 600 students for the one-day event.

The event this year was scheduled during Seymour High School’s Power Hour, or unified lunch/study period.

“Because of the Power Hour, we could see potentially as many as 1,300 students,” Deckard said.

Another change brought about by Power Hour is the availability of cellphones for students during that time period. Deckard said there were several tweeting poles, spurring students to tweet about the event on Twitter.

Students also could use quick response codes to access answers to worksheets and information about businesses.

Depending on the number of answers and quick response codes scanned, students could enter to win prizes, including mobile digital sunglasses, sunglasses capable of recording in HD video and playing music, iPad Minis and gift cards.

Students who completed a survey were entered to win a 32-inch HD television.

Some of the booths also gave away prizes, including a Kindle Fire or gift cards.

Tammy Brittain, quality assurance trainer with Kremers Urban Pharmaceuticals, said this was her first year at the event.

“I think sometimes, students think they have to leave the county to have a career, and that’s not true,” she said of the advantage of IPOD for students.

The idea of leaving Seymour for school and work is common among some of the students present.

“Our goal is to have them come back into the county and live and work here,” Deckard said.

Brittain said she believes that fields like working for Kremers aren’t merely jobs but career paths. It has allowed her to help improve the quality of life for people.

“Our products go to over 40 countries,” she said. “When you work there, you are helping people have better health.”

Luke Schnitker, technology specialist with Jackson-Jennings Co-op, and Katie Martin, communications director with the same company, said a lot of students don’t know there are many different careers in the agricultural field.

“I think we opened some doors for kids that may not know the technology we use in the agriculture field,” Martin said.

“A lot of students don’t realize the opportunities available in Jackson County,” Schnitker said.

Martin said several jobs, including accountant, economist, agronomist, general labor work, CDL drivers and technology-based positions, are available that work with or for Jackson-Jennings Co-op.

“These are all positions people don’t necessarily think of but are still in our field,” Martin said.

The knowledge of more career paths available for students is something Deckard said she hoped the students took away from the fair.

“I hope they walk away with a connection with their career interest in reality, where they fit in this big world starting when they graduate,” she said.

Deckard said IPOD is more than just a job fair, it is a chance for students to find out skills they have that they might not know they have.

The students were encouraged to take a skills survey explaining possible skills and job fields they might not have seen themselves in but could still thrive.

Students were invited to test some of these skills at the booths as they performed skill games lasting about a minute.

The games took different forms, including counting and calculating “pills” (candy), assembling pieces on a portion of an engine block, flipping colored pegs into adjacent holes and intubating a mannequin.

The games were designed to demonstrate a small portion of the skills necessary for functioning in some of the jobs in the fields at each booth.

A couple of students attending the event said they benefited from the experience.

“Overall, I think it’s a great opportunity to learn about jobs in Seymour,” said Daniel Vargas, a junior at Seymour High School.

Seymour freshman Megan Ritz said she plans on pursing a career in radiology. She was able to talk to Schneck Medical Center employees and find out information she hadn’t heard of, such as a summer program.

“I think the biggest advantage is that we can come out and see what they offer us and learn about the companies,” she said.

“I think it’s a good time to come out, even as a freshman, and see if there is something that would interest us in the future,” Ritz said. “I think learning about the field and making sure that’s what you want to do instead of going to college and paying for it and then not liking your job is one of the greatest advantages.”

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