Friday, November 20, 2015

Windham High students prepare for life after graduation - By Michelle Libby

From sophomores to seniors, students at Windham High School were given the opportunity to speak to representatives from more than 50 colleges, do mock interviews, listen to presentations on financial aid and one from Sterling Rope CEO and president Carolyn Brodsy. They also were able to talk to industry professionals last Monday at a college and career fair. This was the third year for the annual event put on by JMG career counselor Nicole Sturgis. Each year the event grows a little bigger with more to offer.
“This event is important because in the past things like this were not offered. We need as much information going into the world. A large scale event like this is inclusive to everyone in the school no matter their aptitude,” said sophomore Caleb Schrock.  

This year the sophomores were given coaching before the event on items like handshaking and eye contact. They were able to participate in mock interviews with community business leaders and were asked to fill out a job application for the experience. Most of the students said the interviews were not nerve wracking, but some were so nervous that they couldn’t walk into the room, said one staff member.
“All students who participated in the interviews received written feedback about their strengths and some things they could work on. Our juniors will be working on a project in their English classes regarding career and college exploration so this fair provided them with opportunities to gather information to use in their projects,” said Sturgis. “The seniors, who are in the midst of college applications, heard from FAME about how to find scholarships and from USM about the difference between high school and college and how to be a more successful college student. Also, we had some seniors add some of the schools they talked with to their college application lists.”

The event was two hours long and gave students the opportunity to talk to as many colleges, universities and vocations as they wanted. Students were given stickers when they spoke to the adults, which once filled were put in for drawings for gift cards and prizes. 

“I’m looking at all my options,” said student Ben MacDonald. 

Local business professionals from the area were put into career categories and asked to talk about what they do for work. Social media guru David Pride from Social Impressions spoke to students about his job connecting people with Facebook, Twitter and all the other media platforms. 

Dustin Roma, of DM Roma Consulting Engineers in Windham, was back for his third year. As a civil engineer, he hoped to show students a “hands on trade”. “I want to connect with those few kids,” he said. He also went to Windham High School and wanted to give back. 

The businesses were interested in sharing the opportunities that students might not have thought about like computer technology and security at Gorham Savings Bank or architecture and construction. There was a heavy equipment simulator that had a continuous line. AAA passed out safe driving pamphlets and had a wheel that students could spin to win prizes. 

“This is important. A lot walk up and don’t know what IT is,” said Kevin Heatley of Gorham Savings Bank. “They ask ‘What do you do? What do I need for classes?’ I give them some ideas. I think it’s very helpful.” 

Carolyn Brodsky spoke to the jobs available in manufacturing from jobs that require a four year degree and those that don’t require college. 

“There are 900 companies in Maine considered manufacturers,” she said. Manufacturing is making something, making brands, she told the students.   

Sturgis thought Brodsky was a logical choice as a speaker. “I was hoping that they would learn more from a local manufacturer that hires both college grads and high school grads. That manufacturing can be a valid choice for students with good wages. With the rock climbing gym at the school and a lot of students into rock climbing - it was a nice tie in to have a manufacturer of rock climbing gear. She also touched on habits of work, for example, showing up on time, etc. that employers are looking for.”

The event will happen again, said Sturgis.


The difference between a creative brain and an analytical brain.

Sophomore Dani Meader and junior Sam Martin use the heavy equipment simulator.

Corrections officer Ladd Post van de Burg talks to interested students at the career and college fair on Monday.

Junior Jewel Cummings uses a medical device from Enercon Technology in Gorham, while Marjie Collins and Fred Howard look on.
David Pride speaks with Maya Jorgensen about social media at the career and college fair at Windham High School.

Carolyn Brodsy explained how businesses work in the manufacturing industry to students at Windham High School.

Town manager Tony Plante and Windham Economic Development director Tom Bartell speak to a group of students about government.

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