Tuesday, April 12 at the Greenville High School, seniors from most of the schools in the county came to visit with, interview, and to be interviewed by 15 of our fine businesses. Lisa Wendel, our workforce specialist, has done a great job organizing and putting on this event along with Melanie Nealeigh, the office coordinator. The Economic Development office has worked very hard to make sure our students know the possibilities for employment in Darke County.
I have been fortunate enough to be invited to both of the Job fairs that have been held so far. Now, I will admit it is hard to convince young people to get into politics (more on that later), but it does give me the chance to do something I love to do: interact with young people. It is a real eye opener if you allow them the opportunity to tell you what they think, how they believe things should be, and their goals in life. I enjoy watching how they interview, and the complete differences and also the sameness of thought they all have. It is a great three hours for me. As I sat there at my station listening to these bright, young students, I couldn’t help but learn some things about them, and about myself too. So, I have decided to share some of what I learned from them.
1) These are all good kids. They come to this fair to plan their futures, and to learn of the possibilities available here. Their futures are extremely important to them, more than one thinks of when they think of young people.
2) There are only a few that do not have concrete plans, they just want a job. The ones who are not sure yet what their future is still are ready to get in the workforce. Several are looking forward to a factory job, and they are impressed with the technology we have in our companies. A few want to get into construction, welding and truck driving. One young man is working with Mike Dellagatta at the Versailles Inn to be a chef! This was good to hear. These jobs right now are in huge demand, along with maintenance personnel.
3) Except for one person, none of them were interested in getting into politics. Nothing surprising here, but what was surprising is how informed about national politics most of them were. Of the ones I asked, most said their parents kept them informed, or tried to insulate them from politics. They all agreed that the last election left a very bad taste in their mouths, and most said they had no trust in the media. Most of them knew nothing of local politics, and only a few even knew anybody in local government.
4) Most of them when asked to be totally honest, will be. I was proud of most of them when I asked them to be totally honest and look me in the eye and tell me what they thought of politicians. They did! It wasn’t a very flattering opinion, but it was an honest one that I was glad to hear. This shows me a desire to be truthful, and do it in a way that was not rude, just honest. This generation for the most part is thoughtful, considerate, and good to each other, but they are willing to give someone their opinion when asked. Another honest answer that should surprise everyone was when asked if they would consider raising their families here, almost all said they would. That’s a good thing!
5) Oral communication and interviewing are the practices that need to be improved. Technology has deprived many of our young people of this practice. Most students seemed timid, and found it difficult to look you in the eye when interviewed, and were unprepared to answer questions. I would encourage schools and homes to both teach and practice these very important skills, and the art of the handshake.
6) Most of our companies thoroughly enjoy this experience and will return again. I heard several say they got some good leads, one company even had one of the students who intern for them.
This was another success for Darke County Economic Development. We are doing many things to help people find work, (plenty of jobs here!), and help our companies to grow and prosper. This is a work in progress. Events like the Senior Job fair give students and businesses the opportunity to find each other and to allow both to find common ground with mutual benefit for all.
Next year, we hope to get more students involved, and to continue our partnership with our companies so they have enough qualified employees, and our future workers have a career, instead of just a job. Now, we just need to work on this politician thing…………
Mike Stegall is a Darke County Commissioner, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.