Students from high schools in Jackson County recently received the opportunity to find out more about careers that local employers offer.
Organized by Jackson County Industrial Development Corp., Career Exploration Day at Seymour High School drew students from that school along with Brownstown Central, Medora and Trinity Lutheran high schools.
The event, formerly known as Industry Possibility and Opportunity Day, included a record 50 booths with local businesses and organizations and their representatives to talk with students about career options.
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Jody Deckard, workforce partnership coordinator for JCIDC, said the event was promoted through the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce, which helped draw more businesses.
“I think that exposed this a little bit more by using the chamber’s network,” she said.
Industries ranged from health care and manufacturing to nonprofit work and skilled trades. There also were restaurants, construction companies, financial institutions and more.
“It gives them the firsthand, one-on-one experience that’s so important,” Deckard said. “The teacher will probably be able to tell you what you need for that career and courses to take, but talking with someone in the profession reinforces all that.”
The fair included more trade jobs this year, including representatives from Milestone, Royalty Roofing, B and H Electric, construction companies and more.
“Employment is the biggest thing because all these businesses are competing for workers,” Deckard said.
Jack Roberts, 18, a senior at Seymour High School, made his way around the auxiliary gymnasium to learn more about different careers in the area.
He will study mechanical engineering at Indiana State University this fall.
“I’ve talked with Cummins, B and H Electric and a few others,” he said.
Roberts said it was a great opportunity to find out what local businesses and organizations offer. He said it wasn’t just a networking event for after college, but also for when he needs a job during summer break.
“I’ve gotten a couple cards to maybe get a summer job,” he said. “It’s great to learn about all the different places in the community for both after college and during it.”
Judd Fish, 18, a senior at Medora, said he was interested in a career in the automotive industry.
Fish spoke with representatives with Cummins Inc., Rose Acre Farms and other businesses.
“I wish I would have been able to come here a couple years ago,” he said. “I’ve talked with people about the opportunities their companies offer and what kind of jobs they offer.”
All students from Seymour High School and eighth graders from the middle school and St. Ambrose Catholic School attended the event.
“For the younger kids, we’re looking to plant seeds and let them know what kind of careers are out there,” Deckard said.
Seymour High School Principal Greg Prange said he hopes the event helped students learn just a little bit more about what is offered throughout Jackson County. He said it also helps students gain an understanding of what they will have to accomplish before getting a career in the field in which they are interested.
“Hopefully, these businesses have made an impression with our students,” he said. “When they actually get to talk and see people in the field, it becomes a real experience for them, and they can find out what’s expected of them in a certain career.”
The event is not the only effort the school does to help students learn about different careers. Students participate in job shadow days, senior mock interviews, internships and more at the school.
“Well over half of our seniors are in work-based learning,” Prange said. “They’re given release time and receive credit during the school day.”
Prange said the event also signals the change many students will begin to face as they move toward graduation.
“I hope they get a sense of reality and that this isn’t just time out of class, but it’s a serious opportunity for them to start thinking about their adult life,” he said. “For 350 seniors, reality is about to kick in.”