OVCTC seniors participate in Career Readiness Week –
By Patricia Beech –
“I’ve always had a pretty good idea about what I wanted to do,” says Destiny Richardson, a high school senior who plans to work as a salon stylist. She’s already taken steps toward her career goal by enrolling in the Cosmetology program at the Ohio Valley Career and Technical Center (OVCTC).
While the OVCTC offers a range of “hard skill” technical and trade study programs, the school is going a step further to give students like Richardson an even greater edge as they enter the job market.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, most students “need some preparation before they’re ready for the workforce”. When applying for a job, many tend to emphasize their “hard skills” – specific knowledge and abilities required for a particular job, however, it’s also necessary that they highlight their “soft skills”.
To answer that need, the OVCTC has adopted a program to help students refine their “soft skills” including: being team players, effective communicators, creative thinkers, and efficient problem solvers.
During the school’s Career Readiness Week in December, seniors participated in mock interview sessions after meeting with employment professionals who help them assess their career readiness and polish their employability skills.
OVCTC Language Arts teacher, Angela McGraw, heads up the week-long program. She says it’s opened doors for several students.
“We always have kids who get job offers during Career Readiness Week, or at least possible leads to jobs,” she says. “It goes a long way toward getting our students ready for their future by helping them gain the confidence they need to handle themselves during interviews.”
Twenty employers took part in the program conducting mock interviews with participating seniors. Additionally, representatives from Express Employment Professionals of Cincinnati, Kelly Snyder and Jessica Cochran, spoke with students about employment resources. Frank Marcus, an image consultant from Men’s Warehouse, offered advise on appearance and interviewing skills.
A total of 124 students were interviewed.
Richardson, who interviewed with Regis Salons, says she thinks the mock interviews provided useful information.
“I think they were helpful for everyone,” she says. “We’re young and we don’t know about these things because we haven’t done them yet, the mock interviews gave us an opportunity to experience what a real one is like.”
Kyle Gorman, a carpentry and College Credit Plus student at OVCTC, participated in three interview sessions. He says he “takes his job hunting very serious.”
“I’m trying to do something with my life,” he says. “I’m interested in anything that helps me move ahead, and the things I learned will help me do that.”
Gorman was contacted by a Batavia-based manufacturing company after being interviewed by their representative.
“I was very excited when they contacted me, but I couldn’t take a job with them because my car isn’t really reliable enough to get me there and back every day.”
He says he opted to find a local job.
“It was a good opportunity for Kyle, but the timing was a little off,” says McGraw, noting that the setback won’t keep Gorman down.
“He lets very little stand in his way,” she says.
McGraw said students spend several weeks preparing for the career-readiness event.
“We talk with them about how they should present themselves during the interviews, but we also focus on helping them to understand that they are responsible for making their own opportunities in this world, and we guide them to resources that will help them do that.”
McGraw provided students with a steady diet of lessons promoting self reliance and self confidence.
“They say the best way to predict the future is to create it, and that’s true – you decide what you want to do – that’s what we’re teaching our students.”
The seniors seem to have taken the lesson to heart.
“I’ve learned it’s very important to believe in yourself,” says Richardson. “If you don’t have confidence in yourself, then other people probably won’t have confidence in you either.”
The OVCTC currently has 34 seniors in paid Early Job Placement /Internship positions in the surrounding area.
Representatives and employers participating in Career Readiness Week included: Todd Bender and Terry Craig from GE; Linsey Watson from the USDA Farm Service Agency; Justin Ross from O’Reilly Auto Parts; William Thompson from Columbus Industries; Caleb Grooms from Winchester Ag; Lonnie Moran from Cahall Bros., Inc.; Larry Stricklett and Ronnie Paul – retired Machine Shop teachers; Troy Thatcher from Evans Group Landscaping; Ray Mustard from Mustard’s Garage; Adam Carroll and Lee Pertuset from the Adams County Engineer’s Office; Monica Copas from Regis Salons; Jade Louderback from Harmony Salon; Tina Nichols from Frisch’s Restaurant; and Kelley Snider and Jessica Cochran from Express Employment Professionals.
The OVCTC Culinary Arts students provided interviewers with breakfast and lunch in the school’s Career Cafe.