ROSSBURG — Organizations in Darke, Shelby, Mercer and Auglaize counties hosted a combination concert and career fair event for local high school seniors on Wednesday at Eldora Speedway.
The goal of the event, according to a press release issued last week, is to actively link graduating seniors to local businesses for internships and full-time employment opportunities. The event included a career fair, two keynote speakers and a musical performance.
The event’s first keynote speaker was Jeremy Bout, president of Edge Factor, a company that produces films and interactive resources designed for students and educators interested in the manufacturing industry. The second was Michelle Poler, founder of Hello Fears, a movement encouraging job seekers to step outside their comfort zones and tap into their full potential. Poler has spoken at companies such as TEDx, Google, Facebook, ESPN, Netflix, Procter and Gamble, Microsoft and Toyota.
More than 1,000 students from 24 school districts attended the event, along with representatives from 110 local businesses.
“Some of these students seem to know their exact path in life,” Karen Rose, who helped organize the event, said. “And some are like, ‘I graduate in six months, and I need to make some decisions.’ But these companies have been very welcoming to the kids. I think the kids got a lot out of it and so did the companies.”
The job market in western Ohio is quite different from what it was when she graduated college, Rose said.
“It’s not just the companies interviewing the kids,” Rose said. “The kids are interviewing the companies. These employers are learning what they need to do to be attractive to these students.”
Shelly Busse, who also was involved in organizing the event, said a big part of their goal was to inform students about the many types of jobs available in the four-county area.
“A lot of it is just awareness,” Busse said. “Kids may think they don’t want to work in manufacturing, but within manufacturing companies there are jobs in accounting, sales, marketing. Whether they want to go to college or not, there are opportunities in Ohio for good jobs, with good companies, where they can grow.”
Busse said she was especially proud of the collaboration between groups in four counties that helped make this event a reality. Organizations involved include AAP, Crown Equipment Corp., Schwan’s, Mama Rosa’s and OhioMeansJobs, as well as The Fremont Co., Hometown Opportunity, Auglaize-Mercer Business Education Alliance, Partnering for Progress, Darke County Economic Development, Workforce Partnership of Shelby County, Mercer County ESC, Auglaize County ESC, Midwest Regional ESC, Shelby Economic Partnership, the City of Sidney, NKTelco and Eldora Speedway.
“We all came together for the same purpose and the same cause, so that was the really cool thing,” Busse said. “If we want our communities to grow and prosper, we need to keep this young talent here.”