Hundreds of Jefferson High School students grilled local and area businesses and post-secondary partners Wednesday during the school’s College and Career Fair. (DHI Media/Nancy Spencer)
Hundreds of Jefferson High School students grilled local and area businesses and post-secondary partners Wednesday during the school’s College and Career Fair. (DHI Media/Nancy Spencer)
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DELPHOS — Hundreds Jefferson High School students grilled local and area businesses and post-secondary partners Wednesday during the school’s College and Career Fair.

There were 35 booths for students to visit, pick up information and items such as pens, Frisbees and more.

Dean Kales, training coordinator for GROB Systems, Inc., was excited to meet with students Wednesday.

“We are here seeking apprentices for 2020 class. Every year we hired a half dozen to two dozen apprentices looking to learn manufacturing engineering technology or mechanical engineering technology,” Kales said.

GROB, a German-based company in Bluffton served the auto-making industry. GROB manufacture the machines that make the parts for automobiles. They employ approximately 550 at the Bluffton facility.

Other booths included area hospitals, financial institutions and more.

The fair was a Wildcat University event, a school and community event series that is part of the Wildcat Career Pathways Initiative. The Wildcat Pathways Initiative is designed to empower students to achieve academic, career, and life success.

The Wildcat Career Pathways Initiative and Wildcat University events are spearheaded by Lisa Imel. The district used a grant to hire Imel, president of the Cleveland-based EDSolutions Group, a consultation firm. She is working alongside administrators, teachers and students to close the gap between real-world experiences and the needs of the students and community.

Imel said along with introducing the students to possible career paths, the way college is approached is also changing.

“We always ask kids what college they are going to when we should be asking them what they are interested in and then finding out what degree they need to further that interest and the best school to get that degree. We are flipping the college decision-making paradigm,” Imel said.

Imel said Wednesday’s fair was also good experience for the freshmen, who will be on the other side of the table in the spring and be interviewed by prospective employers.

“The freshmen could come and see how the booths were set up and how they interacted with the people at those booths so they can take that experience and duplicate it themselves at the Wildcat Career Showcase & Signing Day on Jan. 10,” Imel said. They will be the ones being asked the questions and have to provide answers.”

Just as important as finding a career path is finding out which path students may not want to take.

“This is a great way for students to explore career paths and sometimes knowing what you don’t want is just as important as what you do want,” Imel concluded. “They are getting the opportunity to try things.”