Career fair preps students for future
New London brings in employers, universities
By Scott Bellile
Whether two months or three years away from graduation, students from five area high schools received help in planning for their futures on Tuesday, March 14.
The New London High School Postsecondary and Career Fair showed students the opportunities available at four-year universities, technical colleges, apprenticeships and the military.
About 100 businesses and organizations attended to recruit prospective college students, future employees, summer workers or volunteers. This year the fair was expanded to better assist students who seek alternatives to college in their futures.
“I’m increasingly more impressed with the amount of attention this school has put on post-secondary options, not only colleges but also career fields that 16-, 17-year-olds might not be aware of before the fair,” said Alex Riehle, an admissions adviser for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee who has attended the fair for three years.
Students from New London, Clintonville, Shiocton, Weyauwega and Wautoma were in attendance.
Two college-bound NLHS seniors, Jessica Gregory and Ellie Madsen, said they had their eyes on opportunities such as summer factory work to help pay for their tuition. Madsen said she was pleased to learn how well factories pay.
Students do not have to wait until their first summer line job after high school to make well beyond the minimum wage, however.
The St. Joseph Residence skilled nursing facility in New London pays its high school workers $13.75 per hour, according to Director of Administrative Services Laurie Shaw, which perhaps explains why at least 20 passerby grabbed job applications at the booth.
Faith Technologies also employs students through the Youth Apprenticeship program. Jon Thorn, workforce recruiter, said a lack of skilled journeyman electricians in the industry means it is important for Faith Technologies to train apprentices for entry-level positions.
Troy Pagel, vice president of operations at New London Engineering, similarly said he sees value in young talent.
“The sooner you can get a student interested in metals and fabrication at a young age, the better odds of filling those roles,” Pagel said.
NLHS senior Micah Backus has been interning for New London Utilities and plans to go into power distribution after high school, so he said his work experience has been valuable.
“For the people who don’t know what they’re doing, [the career fair] is an awesome experience,” he added.
Numerous representatives from businesses and universities were wowed by how the students conducted themselves at the Postsecondary and Career Fair.
Christian Villagomez, an apprentice who attended on behalf of Iron Workers Local Union 8, said the students looked “classy” in their wardrobe as if they were going for a job interview.
Students asked great questions and spent just as much time interviewing the adults as vice versa, said Lisa Kingston, career coach for Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.
It was no coincidence that the students seemed ready for the fair, as NLHS Principal Brian Yerkey told the school board two evenings earlier at the March 12 board meeting.
“We had somebody from Workforce Development come in last week and talk to all of our kids about how to prepare themselves for this day, what questions they should ask, what resume should they have ready, how should they dress, the fine details of how your handshake should be. Those are sometimes a lost art on our kids and we went through that,” Yerkey said. “We think this is a big day where a kid could either walk out of that gym with an interest in UW-Madison or have a job come the end of May, so we’re excited about the opportunities.”