While high school is meant to prepare students for the future — whether that be furthering their education or entering directly into the job market — there can often be a disconnect for students when it comes to knowing what career path they would like to pursue.
“As an teacher in the classroom I noticed a disconnect,” Kate Chrisman, teacher and career counselor at Cedar Bluffs High School, said. “Kids know that they have to pass core classes, but they don’t really know how it’s going to change their lives in the future.”
Chrisman is also the FBLA advisor at Cedar Bluffs, and after many conversations with area business owners and professionals found a similar disconnect amongst those that hire high schoolers and other young adults.
“They would say — we hire these kids and they don’t know the value of showing up on time or what to wear,” she said. “So I heard it from the kids and I heard it from the businees owners and I thought—-they need to talk to each other. They need to come together and hopefully learn what they can offer each other.”
Earlier this week both groups were able to do just that, as Cedar Bluffs held a Career Day event where more than 30 area professionals from a multitude of industries met with students and provided insights into potential career paths once they graduate from high school.
“This is one of the biggest career days in the four years that we have been doing it,” Chrisman said. “It was also the biggest spread of different careers because we really wanted to make sure that all the students got to see or speak with somebody in a path they might be interested in pursuing.”
Throughout the day on Monday, high school students in Cedar Bluffs met with professionals in industries ranging from finance to mortuary science, healthcare to agriculture and just about everything in between.
“Locally it feels like kids always seem to think teacher, law enforcement, farmer — those are the options they kind of know about,” Chrisman said. “So we worked hard to bring in people who could introduce them to careers they might not know anything about.”
Students got some perspective on finance from First State Bank and Trust President Chuck Johannsen, government from Dodge County Register of Deeds Carol Givens, mortuary science and funeral homes from Mike Ewing of Moser Memorial Chapel, small business and entrepreneurship from Scott Givens of Audio Visual Specialists just to name a few.
They also heard from multiple healthcare professionals, agriculture professionals, and manufacturing professionals.
Each presentation lasted about 20 minutes before students went on to hear their next speaker — with all of the presentations being held in a small-scale setting to allow students the opportunity to get up close and personal with each presenter.
“We wanted to keep it personal and let the kids have that one-on-one conversation with people in each field,” Chrisman said. “We didn’t want them to just walk by a booth, but to actually sit down with a professional.”
For juniors and seniors at Cedar Bluffs, the Career Day festivities went a step further as they participated in mock interviews.
“They were all given questions ahead of time to consider and then went in by themselves — just like an actual interview,” Chrisman said.
Along with providing feedback to students as far as do’s and don’ts, interviewers also chose the two best students from each group — who were given $10 gift cards for their performance in the mock interviews.
“Basically they got their hiring bonus,” Chrisman joked.
Professionals who presented at the Cedar Bluffs Career Day included: Tad Dinkins, Deborah Wilcox, Josh Anstey, Rick Horwe, Troy Holcomb, Sally Hansen, Shara Johnson, Jeremy Vrana, David Zachek, Jarad Chrisman, Bill McKay, Ben Kratz, Brock Ellis, Meghan Brichacek, Jake Aufermkamp, Alex Iniguez, John Pierce, Chuck Johannsen, Mike Ewing, Greg Grosse, Lonnie Kotschwar, Elke Hesser, Scott Givens, Kyle Kosalka, Clint McIntyre, Libby Headid, Tami Cerny, Bill McKay, Carol Givens, Amy Moore, Miguel Ocampo, Rye Roberts, Cody Ernesti, and John Pierce.