GREENVILLE – Darke County Economic Development’s Partnering for Progress offered a senior career fair at Greenville High School Tuesday for graduating students planning to enter the workforce right after high school.
Students were given questions for their mini-interviews in advance, and practiced their answers and proper interview dress, etiquette and technique ahead of time.
Fourteen companies participated in the event, providing interviewers and manning booths in the cafeteria for the students to peruse and ask additional questions, said Lisa Wendel, Darke County Economic Development Career Pathway Coordinator. About 80 seniors from Greenville, Ansonia, Tri-Village, Versailles and Mississinawa Valley took part.
Guest speaker Jack Staugler, human resources director for Cooper Farms, also talked to the students about professional communication skills.
“The end-all goal is to keep the best and the brightest here in Darke County to work and raise their family,” Wendel said.
The students moved from table to table in two-minute intervals for two questions from an industry professional, before moving on to the next table. Just like in real life, some seemed cool and collected, while others appeared nervous and unsure of themselves.
Student participant Dane Wentworth said of the experience, “I thought it was good. I learned a lot of new things.” Wentworth said he is looking for a summer job to earn some money before college.
Jeramy Toombs said he found the experience “exciting.” Toombs signed up for the event hoping to find a job, but he happened to get hired over the weekend to work at the Merchant House restaurant opening soon downtown.
“I signed up wanting to get a job, but then I got one,” Toombs said. “It’s always nice to have an idea of other options though.”
Toombs plans to enlist in the Air Force in its television services.
The event was not only beneficial to the student participants. Many of the companies participating were actually looking for people to fill jobs.
Angela Westfall, of King’s Command Foods in Versailles, conducted interviews with Sherri Feitshaus and said her company is in the midst of an expansion and will be hiring about 150 people soon.
“We’ll start hiring in late April to early May,” Westfall said. “Hopefully we can get them all from Darke County, or most anyway.”
Westfall said applications and resumes are very welcome, and information can be found on the website at www.kingscommand.com/careers-family-owned-equal-opportunity. Jobs are available for production, clerical, shipping and machine operators.
Shawn Hatch and Lisa Ritz conducted interviews for PolyOne and said their company is actively recruiting people to work in the manufacturing facility. Hatch said the event was useful for the students and the company as a recruiting tool, as it does hire straight out of high school.
Kevin Grilliot, training supervisor at Midmark, was manning a booth in the cafeteria to provide more information for students and said the event was “a great opportunity for students and the business community.”
Grilliot said Midmark not only hires straight out of high school, but it also offers opportunities to further education and training with tuition reimbursement and vocational training partnerships. The programs allow Midmark team members to further their opportunities for advancement within the company or even elsewhere.
After practicing their interview skills and learning more about the companies, students were able to fill out a common application and submit a copy to up to five of the companies that interested them, so they had a real opportunity to find a real job that pays a living wage, Wendel said.
“Companies were telling us they’ve been getting few applications from graduating seniors, and they wanted to know where they all were,” Wendel said. “They were going off to these minimum wage jobs not knowing what else was out there. We’re connecting graduates with jobs with living wages and hoping we’ll be able to keep them here in Darke County.”