Preparing for the workforce

By Abigail Wheeler
The Owl

Deciding what direction to take after high school can be daunting for students, but one local organization has spent more than a decade trying to make it a little easier.

Jackson County Industrial Development Corp. is responsible for the annual Industry Possibility and Opportunity Day, more popularly known as IPOD Day.

In its 11th year, the event, which is similar to a job fair, was April 19 at Seymour High School and featured many local businesses and colleges.

Between 600 and 700 students from Brownstown Central, Crothersville and Trinity Lutheran high schools joined Seymour High School students throughout the day to learn about jobs and educational opportunities right here in Jackson County.

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Seymour sophomore Elijah Miller said IPOD Day was a great way to find out more about his future career choice, architectural engineering, while freshman Morgan Sargent got her first taste of what the local job market is like.

“I learned a lot about the different businesses, colleges and more about my community,” Sargent said. “It was a real eye-opener to how many local businesses (are here). I loved walking around with my friends, talking about what we want to be and learning more about each other.”

Some of the businesses in attendance passed out applications, while others provided more details about their workforce.

Participants included the Jackson County Learning Center, Ivy Tech Community College, IUPUC, RR Donnelley, Valeo, Kremers Urban Pharmaceuticals, Aisin USA, Aisin Drivetrain, Rose Acre Farms, Excel Manufacturing, Walmart Distribution Center, Cummins Inc. Seymour Engine Plant, Seymour Tubing, O&k American Corp., Pet Supplies Plus Distribution, Seymour Animal Hospital, Schneck Medical Center, Jackson County Emergency Medical Services, Seymour Police Department, Old National Bank, The Peoples Bank, Frontier Communications, Goecker Construction, Ranger Enterprises, JCB and First National Bank.

Rose Acre Farms has had a presence at IPOD Day ever since the event’s inception with the hope of raising awareness about the variety of jobs within the company, which is moving its headquarters from Cortland to Seymour.

With shipping and logistics and many office jobs available, there is much more at Rose Acre than just handling chickens, company officials told students.

Purdue Polytechnic also was represented at the event. Campus officials said they are looking to attract more students from Seymour and the surrounding area.

To encourage students to ask questions, businesses donated prizes such as an Apple Watch, a Samsung tablet, gift cards, a Fitbit, cellphone armbands and T-shirts that were raffled off to those students who completed and turned in a questionnaire about the event.

Jody Deckard, workforce partnership coordinator for Jackson County Industrial Development Corp., said IPOD Day is not just for graduating seniors but is a good experience for all students.

“I can’t say enough that every high school, in my opinion, should attend,” she said. “Students learn so much from the industries, from what they manufacture to the array of careers available in their companies to the diversity of the industry.”

By having all of the businesses together in one place, students also see the reach and impact local industries have.

“Jackson County not only has American industries but also German, French and Japanese,” Deckard said. “Many of our industries are global.”

And students can ask career-specific questions from those in the field.

“They can learn so much about careers, like which high school courses will benefit them if they choose to go to college or directly in the workforce,” Deckard said. “Our world is changing, and today’s students, who are our future workforce, have to be ready.”

Abigail Wheeler is a junior at Seymour High School. She is a staff member of the student newspaper, The Owl. Send comments to [email protected].