More than two dozen seniors from Warren County High School had a chance to learn about employment opportunities and get tips on how to land a job during a Career Day held on Sept. 16.
The event was the brainchild of Warren County Economic Development Director Ken Bowman, who kept hearing the same thing from those doing the hiring after he started holding quarterly round table meetings with local business and industry leaders about a year ago.
“They kept saying, ‘We need a skilled workforce with good work ethics,’ ” Bowman explained.
Companies would have job openings, but had a hard time filling the vacancies, Bowman said. In talking with various agencies about people seeking work, he found that many were unable to pass entry level requirements to get an interview. So he teamed up with Warren County Schools’ director of Technology/Career and Technical Education, Ernie Conner, to bring together future job seekers and people who could help them.
WCHS students who were not planning to attend a four-year university or attend community college then transfer to a four-year school were selected to attend Career Day, Conner said. Twenty-six such students participated, along with a recent graduate who is still searching for a job.
Conner explained that these students are looking to start a career in the workforce following graduation or attend community college part-time while working.
A goal of Career Day was to show the students different opportunities for employment, rather than them thinking that there are no jobs here, Conner said, in addition to learning what to expect in an interview.
Mini-sessions offered covered resume writing and soft skills, interviewing techniques, and how to dress.
Crystal Smith, director of N.C. Cooperative Extension’s Warren County office, taught “Dress to Impress” that included tips on what to wear for an interview, personal hygiene, body language, and jewelry, among others.
She was pleased with the turnout and response from students.
“I hope they do (Career Day) again,” she said. “It was beneficial for the students.”
Conner called the mini-sessions “outstanding” and said that the overall event complemented career academies and other job preparedness programs at WCHS. He said he felt that being exposed to different job opportunities here in the county helped the students become a little more focused.
“I’m very appreciative of Ken and his staff for arranging this, and really appreciate the employers being able to be (here),” he said.
Bowman, who recruited the participation of local companies and other agencies offering jobs, said he was surprised to have plant managers at the event, in addition to human resources staff.
“It was really impressive and meant a lot to the students getting to meet face-to-face with the people who run the companies,” he said.
Student Lakaye Williams visited with a number of agencies, including Warren County Emergency Medical Services, where she got hands-on training in administering CPR.
“Chest compressions are hard work,” she said.
Attending Career Day gave students a chance to see what they may want to do after high school, she said.
“Soon, we’ll be out there and getting a job. Some may not go to college out of high school,” she said.
Aaron Harper made the rounds as well, collecting information from companies and Vance-Granville Community College. He said he was especially interested in possible work with the N.C. Department of Transportation, Cooper-ative Extension or working as a mechanic because he likes to be outside and work on engines.
A fire captain with the Warrenton Rural Vol. Fire Department, Walter Powell was on hand to talk about the fire service. He said he would like to see another Career Day event planned for the spring before the seniors graduate.
“I love it. This is long overdue,” Powell said of the Career Day. “Some students are not interested in going to college, and this is a great opportunity for them to explore opportunities in the workforce.”